HMP worse than war
Lulzim Jakupaj, convicted of break-in, says prison ‘is not helping me’
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.
Lulzim Jakupaj is escorted out of the courtroom at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Monday following his sentencing hearing.