The grandfather said he’s tried putting fear into the boy — relating his own lengthy history with the criminal justice system. He was involved in a deadly stabbing in the 1970s and ended up doing 12 years in prison for manslaughter. He’s been in and out of custody many times since then, most recently in 2009 — when his grandson was five years old — following a domestic incident with his estranged wife, the boy’s grandmother.
“I tried talking to him, telling him you can’t be doing this. Only two things are going to happen if you carry on this type of life — you’re going to end up dead or you’re going to end up in jail,” he told the Free Press in an extensive interview last fall.
For now, it’s jail. The boy is being held in custody on several charges, including theft over $5,000 and dangerous driving.
Neither of the boy’s biological parents has played much of a role in his life, the grandfather says. His son — the boy’s father — has been linked in court to Winnipeg’s gang and drug trade and survived a shooting in which a friend was killed.
The boy’s mother currently faces a long list of charges related to the sex trade, along with drug and weapons offences. She gave permission for the grandparents to care for her son days after he was born. The grandparents had taken in the boy’s older brother just after he was born two years earlier.
Both are in CFS care.
The boy’s alarming history became an issue at the provincial legislature last year. Manitoba Families Minister Scott Fielding said in August 2016 the government was looking at solutions.
“We’re obviously going to work with the authorities. We need to develop a plan for this individual,” he said at the time.
The boy had a mental-health assessment done and was assessed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which makes successful treatment difficult. The Free Press has spoken with several local experts in criminal justice and forensic psychology. All agree the case is unique and alarming.
“This is something that should scare the hell out of society,” Steven Kohm, head of the criminal justice department at the University of Winnipeg, said last year.
“It’s almost like this is a worst-case scenario, a culmination of all the fears surrounding the child-welfare system and these lost kids. It seems everything has failed.”
The grandfather believes the future can be salvaged. He wants to move out of Manitoba and get a fresh start in another province should he ever regain custody from CFS, which has a temporary guardianship order.
Any custody battle will take a backseat to the court battle that looms following the bus incident in Brandon.
A smashed car rests at the intersection of 10th Street and Princess Avenue in Brandon Oct. 6. Police allege a 12-year-old boy with a long criminal history stole the car and hit a transit bus, sending it into a building (below).