Ben­e­fit of the doubt

Judge gives Wheeler sen­tence at lower end of Crown’s re­quest

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN gary.kean@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

Jus­tice Vikas Kha­l­ad­kar gave Colin Wheeler a lit­tle le­niency, but not ev­ery­thing the life­long crim­i­nal had asked for when he was sen­tenced Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Jus­tice Vikas Kha­l­ad­kar gave Colin Wheeler a lit­tle le­niency, but not ev­ery­thing the life­long crim­i­nal had asked for when he was sen­tenced Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Wheeler, 36, was con­victed ear­lier this year of as­sault with a weapon, mis­chief and two breaches of a court or­der in re­la­tion to an in­ci­dent in Benoit’s Cove in Oc­to­ber 2017.

The in­ci­dent in­volved two women vic­tims, in­clud­ing one to whom Wheeler held a knife. He also later con­tacted her while he was in prison de­spite be­ing or­dered by the courts not to do so.

The as­sault hap­pened not long af­ter Wheeler had fin­ished serv­ing a four-year sen­tence for as­sault and forcible con­fine­ment in British Columbia, which it­self was pre­ceded by an­other four-year prison term for a stab­bing in­ci­dent com­mit­ted in Cor­ner Brook.

In the Supreme Court of New­found­land and Labrador ear­lier this week, af­ter Crown at­tor­ney Adam Sparkes had asked Kha­l­ad­kar to sen­tence Wheeler to be­tween 31/2 and 41/2 years in prison for his lat­est crime, Wheeler sug­gested he should get a lighter sen­tence.

Wheeler, who rep­re­sented him­self in court, asked the judge for house ar­rest in the range of 18 to 24 months. He also said he should get a credit of three days for ev­ery day served in cus­tody prior to sen­tenc­ing be­cause most of that time was spent in what he de­scribed as un­con­sti­tu­tional seg­re­ga­tion from the gen­eral prison pop­u­la­tion.

Wheeler also ar­gued a more le­nient sen­tence was war­ranted be­cause he has not been re­ceiv­ing his med­i­ca­tion for var­i­ous men­tal dis­or­ders.

Kha­l­ad­kar sen­tenced Wheeler to 3 1/2 years, not­ing that the as­sault was ac­tu­ally at the lower range of se­ri­ous­ness. The judge said there was no phys­i­cal in­jury to any vic­tim and lunges Wheeler made with the knife never found their mark.

In terms of credit for time served, Kha­l­ad­kar said that, although it seemed likely it was Wheeler’s own at­ti­tude and ac­tions that landed him in soli­tary con­fine­ment, he should still get the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Kha­l­ad­kar gave Wheeler 1 1/2days credit — the max­i­mum a court can give — for each of the 383 days he had served in pre-sen­tence cus­tody.

That means Wheeler will be cred­ited with hav­ing served 55 days of his 3 1/2-year sen­tence.

The break­down of the sen­tenc­ing was three years for the as­sault with a weapon, six months to be served con­cur­rently for the mis­chief charge and three months for each of the two court or­der breaches. Those six months are to be served con­sec­u­tively to the three years for the as­sault with a weapon.

Kha­l­ad­kar also placed Wheeler on pro­ba­tion for two years fol­low­ing his re­lease. The con­di­tions in­clude that he re­main within New­found­land and Labrador and have no con­tact with his vic­tims, un­less con­tact is ini­ti­ated by them.

Wheeler is not fin­ished with the courts yet. He still has out­stand­ing charges stem­ming from al­leged as­saults while in­car­cer­ated at Her Majesty’s Pen­i­ten­tiary in St. John’s, which will be called in pro­vin­cial court in the cap­i­tal city to­day.

He also has charges in Cor­ner Brook stem­ming from al­legedly try­ing to in­tim­i­date both the judge and Crown in­volved in his trial for which Kha­l­ad­kar han­dled the sen­tenc­ing por­tion.

Wheeler

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