HMP worse than war

Lulzim Jaku­paj, con­victed of break-in, says prison ‘is not help­ing me’

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSIE MULLALEY rmul­la­ley@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: Te­ly­rosie

Lulzim Jaku­paj says he’d rather be dodg­ing bul­lets and bombs in the war-torn coun­try where he was born than go back to Her Majesty’s Pen­i­ten­tiary.

Lulzim Jaku­paj says he’d rather be dodg­ing bul­lets and bombs in the war-torn coun­try where he was born than go back to Her Majesty’s Pen­i­ten­tiary,

“I’m go­ing to be hon­est with you. That jail is ac­tu­ally worse than the war I’ve been through,” Jaku­paj said Mon­day while tes­ti­fy­ing at his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing at New­found­land Supreme Court in St. John’s.

“If given the choice, I’d go back (to war). At least in war, I can fight back.

“That place (HMP) is not help­ing me.”

Jaku­paj, orig­i­nally from Kosovo, is fac­ing jail time after he was found guilty in March of break and en­ter with in­tent.

While Jaku­paj, dur­ing his trial, in­sisted he did noth­ing wrong, the judge be­lieved Jaku­paj broke into an apart­ment on Caron­dale Drive in Kil­bride at 3 a.m. on May 21, 2016. Jaku­paj was on duty with City Wide cabs, dropped a young woman off and then went into the apart­ment min­utes later.

The woman’s ex-boyfriend, who lived in the apart­ment, said he saw a dark-skinned, dark­haired man peer­ing through the bed­room door min­utes after he let the woman in­side. He said he screamed, ran after the in­truder and con­fronted him in the kitchen, where the in­truder el­bowed him in the eye be­fore tak­ing off. Noth­ing was taken from the apart­ment. At trial, the man iden­ti­fied Jaku­paj as the man re­spon­si­ble.

Be­fore he was to be given a jail sen­tence, Jaku­paj took the wit­ness stand to tell the judge about the harsh life he had in Kosovo.

“I get flash­backs all the time,” the 33-year-old said. “I’ve changed my life for the bet­ter (in Canada), but I’ll never for­get what hap­pened to me. The pic­tures keep com­ing back.”

He said he re­mem­bers be­ing dragged from his home at age 12, hav­ing his fam­ily torn apart, be­ing sur­rounded by armed Ser­bian mil­i­tants and be­ing bru­tally beaten. He was able to es­cape later in the year, only to be forced into mil­i­tary ser­vice in Al­ba­nia — all be­fore he was a teenager.

How­ever, he said com­ing to Canada in 2007 dra­mat­i­cally im­proved his life. While it was dif­fi­cult sup­port­ing his el­derly fa­ther, his mother (now de­ceased) and other sib­lings, he said, he went to school to learn English and worked two jobs with­out need­ing so­cial ser­vices.

He ad­mit­ted that com­ing from a war-torn coun­try, he had to deal with trust and anger is­sues, but he has con­sulted doc­tors and psy­chi­a­trists to help con­trol it.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Dana Sul­li­van said what Jaku­paj did was se­ri­ous and he de­serves a 4 1/2to five-year prison term.

She said the break-in was a home in­va­sion; there was vi­o­lence against the male home­owner and the threat of vi­o­lence against the woman; and there was a breach of trust.

“She trusted him to get her to her des­ti­na­tion safely,” Sul­li­van said. “We all trust taxi driv­ers to do that.”

Sul­li­van also pointed out the woman was vul­ner­a­ble, hav­ing been in the cab alone; the of­fence was, to a cer­tain de­gree, planned and de­lib­er­ate; and Jaku­paj had a sex­ual mo­tive when he broke in.

De­fence lawyer Amanda Sum­mers dis­agreed, stat­ing there was no ev­i­dence pre­sented to sug­gest there was any mo­tive. She pointed out no­body was hurt in the in­ci­dent and noth­ing was stolen.

Sum­mers said Jaku­paj is a first-time of­fender and has taken steps to make a bet­ter life for him­self.

She said a year in jail is a more ap­pro­pri­ate sen­tence.

Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Whalen will ren­der his de­ci­sion June 28.

ROSIE MULLALEY/THE TELE­GRAM

Lulzim Jaku­paj is es­corted out of the court­room at New­found­land Supreme Court in St. John’s Mon­day fol­low­ing his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

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