Court seeks community supports for elderly offender

The future of a local homeless man rests in the hands of a Williams Lake Provincial Court judge following a two-day trial last week.

The future of a local homeless man rests in the hands of a Williams Lake Provincial Court judge following a two-day trial last week.

Judge Victor Galbraith postponed the sentencing of 65-year-old David Jeff, a chronic alcoholic well-known to both police and court staff, until Friday, April 10.

Galbraith quietly convicted Jeff of one count of assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon, and four counts relating to breaches of an undertaking not to consume alcohol after hearing the testimony of a victim, four police officers and from  Jeff himself Wednesday and Thursday.

The most serious charge of assault with a weapon stemmed from an incident at the local A&W Oct. 25, 2014 where Jeff, intoxicated, produced a knife after being refused service. Following that incident, Jeff was picked up by police on four other occasions for alcohol-related breaches until he was remanded into custody Jan. 13 to await trial.

At the heart of the matter before Galbraith was the need to protect the public but also the desire to assist Jeff and find him a permanent place to live with supports to help keep him out of trouble.

“The community can’t do much for him … because alcohol has him so gripped he can hardly help himself,” said Crown counsel Carol Hawes, noting the case was “sorrowful” and that she also wanted to protect Jeff.

She noted however there was a period of time, from 2007 until this latest conviction, that Jeff had no trouble with the law at all.

Hawes recommended a global sentence of 60 days above his two-and-a-half months of time served, and the longest probation period possible.

Following a lengthy discussion Thursday morning regarding the concern surrounding where Jeff could go following his release, Galbraith asked if homelessness outreach worker Wayne Lucier and Jubilee Place manager Mike Charron could come to the court to shed some more light on the challenges facing Jeff.

Lucier told the courts that Jeff left Abraham’s Lodge where he has stayed on and off for many years in January because of the high cost of rent. Jeff then moved to Jubilee Place, however, had difficulties when he began receiving his old age pension cheque.

“I don’t think he has that understanding that he has to pay rent,” Lucier said, noting Jeff’s past diagnosis of mental illness and challenges with alcohol.

He said getting Jeff back into Jubilee Place where they can assist with dispersement of medication and possibly assist with his finances “would make a world of difference for Mr. Jeff.”

Charron, who said he has 36 people currently living at Jubilee Place with another 32 on the wait-list, ensured Galbraith he would save a spot for Jeff at Jubilee Place by April 10.

Defence lawyer Burdick Smith aired his frustration with the situation of Jeff being on trial at all.

“I simply don’t know what he understands, despite what the psychiatrist, who spent an hour with him says,” Smith said of Jeff, who was very thin but smiling throughout the proceedings.

“However he has been found fit to stand trial.”

Smith submitted that Jeff’s sentence should be time served unless he needs to stay in jail until a home is found for him.

Then, when it seemed Jubilee Place was the best fit, Jeff told Galbraith that he wanted to go back to Abraham’s Lodge.

 

Galbraith is expected to make his decision on the matter Friday.

 

 

Williams Lake Tribune

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