Crown, de­fence dif­fer on sen­tenc­ing

Fed­eral jail time would be ‘crush­ing’ for man in­volved in armed stand­off, his fa­ther and lawyer say

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY TARA BRAD­BURY tara.brad­[email protected]­gram.com Twit­ter: @tara_brad­bury

Ja­son Earle’s fa­ther is hop­ing a New­found­land and Labrador Supreme Court judge won’t side with the Crown when he sen­tences Earle in two weeks’ time.

“It’s too much,” Billy Earle told The Tele­gram of prose­cu­tor Erin Matthews’ ar­gu­ment for four years in jail for his son, who was con­victed of charges re­lated to an armed stand­off with po­lice. “How do you ex­pect re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion when the Crown is ask­ing for such a huge sen­tence?”

Jus­tice Vikas Kha­l­ad­kar con­victed Ja­son Earle a week ago of firearms charges as well as charges of ut­ter­ing threats and as­sault­ing an RNC of­fi­cer in re­la­tion to the stand­off at a Bara­chois Street home in Septem­ber 2016.

Kha­l­ad­kar ac­cepted ev­i­dence pre­sented at trial sug­gest­ing Earle had been sui­ci­dal and had gone to the Water­ford Hospi­tal ear­lier in the day, but had been turned away be­fore he bar­ri­caded him­self in­side his mother’s home with a sawed-off shot­gun.

In a call to 911, Earle made a re­port of an armed and dan­ger­ous man who was go­ing to hurt peo­ple, and threat­ened to shoot po­lice and him­self.

“This is what’s go­ing to hap­pen, OK?” he told the op­er­a­tor. “They’re go­ing to come in, I’m go­ing to shoot them, they’re go­ing to shoot back, I’m go­ing to die.

“I’m not go­ing to jail. I’m go­ing in the ground.”

Kha­l­ad­kar ac­cepted ev­i­dence from Earle’s fa­ther that the gun had been dis­charged three times: once into the tele­phone, once near the pa­tio door when Earle lost his bal­ance and once out a front win­dow as his fa­ther tried to dis­arm him.

At his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing Thurs­day af­ter­noon, the court heard from a psy­chol­o­gist who said Earle suf­fers from post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

In sug­gest­ing a four-year jail term, Matthews ac­knowl­edged Earle’s men­tal-health is­sues were “at the helm that day,” and called the events tragic, given his will­ing­ness to take his own life.

She stressed, how­ever, that Earle had put oth­ers in dan­ger as well, in­clud­ing chil­dren play­ing on the street. It was only “by fluke” that po­lice of­fi­cers were not shot by the shot­gun blast fired out the front win­dow, Matthews said,

“There was a very real pos­si­bil­ity that some­one could have been in­jured or even killed,” she said. “Mr. Earle had the in­tent to take his own life, which is in it­self dan­ger­ous and con­cern­ing. There was a very real risk of harm from that firearm.

“(Four years) is a heavy sen­tence, but it is fit. It’s long, but it’s war­ranted.”

Earle’s lawyer, Jen­nifer Cur­ran, ar­gued for a one-year jail sen­tence. She noted Earle had been in­side the house, not in the com­mu­nity, with the firearm, and had not in­tended to hurt any­one but him­self.

Cur­ran said Earle is the “very ac­tive fa­ther” of a five-year-old daugh­ter with Down syn­drome and has a short adult crim­i­nal record, with no con­vic­tions in the past seven years. He is com­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pat­ing in men­tal-health treat­ment, she said.

“I’m not go­ing to stand up here and say gun vi­o­lence isn’t se­ri­ous,” Cur­ran told the judge. “But in these cir­cum­stances, the Crown’s pro­posed sen­tence would be crush­ing for my client.

“He knows he can’t have these episodes. He knows they are dan­ger­ous for him, for his fam­ily and for law en­force­ment.”

Kha­l­ad­kar will sen­tence Earle Dec. 18.

TARA BRAD­BURY/THE TELE­GRAM

Sher­iffs hand­cuff Ja­son Earle, 25, be­fore es­cort­ing him out of a St. John’s court­room once his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing wrapped up Thurs­day.

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