Colin Wheeler re­ceives two jail sen­tences in one week

Wheeler sen­tenced in St. John’s Fri­day to 13 months for crimes com­mit­ted in HMP

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY TARA BRAD­BURY

It may have been hard for some to rec­on­cile the Colin Wheeler who com­mit­ted more than a dozen crimes in Her Majesty’s Pen­i­ten­tiary over the nine months with the Colin Wheeler who ad­dressed the court Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Con­victed of se­ri­ous of­fences — in­clud­ing punch­ing an in­mate in the face to the point he re­quired stitches, throw­ing urine at a cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer when she tried to serve him break­fast in his cell, telling the same of­fi­cer he would hunt her down and kill her, and beat­ing the sink off his cell wall and pulling out the plumb­ing so the cell flooded — Wheeler was calm and ar­tic­u­late when asked by Judge Mark Pike if he had any­thing to say.

Wheeler pointed out he had been in seg­re­ga­tion in HMP for more than 300 days, which he claimed is “the most guards have seen since the prison opened in the 1800s.”

“I do take re­spon­si­bil­ity for putting my­self there for a large por­tion of the time due to be­havioural prob­lems,” Wheeler said, ask­ing the judge to con­sider he has a num­ber of men­tal health is­sues for which he was de­nied med­i­ca­tion in prison. “I had de­te­ri­o­rated to the point where I acted in ways I’d never act in my reg­u­lar life,” he said, in­sist­ing he had, un­til now, never com­mit­ted a crime with­out be­ing in­tox­i­cated.

Fri­day marked Wheeler’s sec­ond sen­tenc­ing in court this week: on Thurs­day, he was handed a 3.5-year jail sen­tence in Cor­ner Brook for charges of as­sault with a knife, mis­chief and breach­ing court or­ders in con­nec­tion with an Oc­to­ber 2017 in­ci­dent in­volv­ing two women. At the time, Wheeler had just fin­ished a fouryear sen­tence for forcible con­fine­ment and as­sault in B.C.; be­fore that, he had earned a four-year sen­tence for a stab­bing in Cor­ner Brook.

It was while on re­mand await­ing pro­ceed­ings on last year’s in­ci­dent that Wheeler com­mit­ted the crimes at HMP. There were 11 in­ci­dents in to­tal, with the charges rang­ing from mis­chief for pulling the fire alarm to as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm.

In one in­ci­dent, the court heard Wheeler had got­ten upset af­ter be­ing de­nied phone calls to fam­ily mem­bers, rip­ping a fire exit sign from the ceil­ing and us­ing it to hit the fire alarm, set­ting it off. He later told cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers he would pull the fire alarm daily be­cause they had re­ported an in­ci­dent to the po­lice, and he fol­lowed up with that prom­ise by ac­ti­vat­ing the alarm on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

There was an in­ci­dent where Wheeler broke lights in the prison, three as­saults on other in­mates, and a phone call to one of the vic­tims of last year’s as­sault on the west coast. The in­ci­dent in which Wheeler as­saulted an of­fi­cer by scoop­ing urine from the toi­let and throw­ing it at her through the hatch of his cell when she opened it to give him break­fast hap­pened last Au­gust. Wheeler made the threat against the same of­fi­cer’s life last week.

“I think most peo­ple would rather have a punch or a kick to the face than have urine scooped from the toi­let and thrown at them,” pros­e­cu­tor Robin Sin­gle­ton told the court, not­ing Wheeler “ob­vi­ously has a prob­lem with vi­o­lent be­hav­iour” and ask­ing for a sen­tence that would send a mes­sage of no tol­er­ance of those ac­tions.

Sin­gle­ton and de­fense lawyer Shanna Wicks pre­sented a joint sug­ges­tion of 395 days in prison, to be served af­ter the sen­tence Wheeler re­ceived Thurs­day.

Wicks stressed Wheeler’s men­tal health is­sues, which she said in­clude op­po­si­tional de­fi­ance dis­or­der, anti-so­cial per­son­al­ity dis­or­der and ad­dic­tion, among oth­ers, and said his time with­out med­i­ca­tion and in seg­re­ga­tion has severely ag­gra­vated those is­sues.

Pike ac­knowl­edged Wheeler’s crimes would nor­mally have at­tracted a harsher pun­ish­ment, but agreed to the joint sen­tenc­ing sub­mis­sion since it was the re­sult of a plea bar­gain.

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