Man claims health concerns ignored in prison

A Princeton man claims he didn't receive proper care while awaiting sentencing.

A Princeton man convicted of careless use of a firearm after shooting himself in the leg is alleging correctional officers told him “don’t blow your nose too hard” after he was beat up in jail and suffered severe facial injuries.

Jessie Lawrence Williams, 32, was found guilty of breaching a firearms prohibition, careless use of a firearm and possessing a prohibited firearm on Oct. 29, 2015 after a judge didn’t buy the story that Williams was the victim of a home invasion on his Princeton property in April, 2015.

Williams was set to be sentenced on Monday in Penticton Provincial Court, but the matter was adjourned after allegations arose that Williams was beat up by three inmates, and received inadequate care from the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre where he is in custody.

Williams is undergoing extensive physiotherapy due to the gunshot wound he inflicted upon himself.

“In addition, he suffered some severe facial injuries while at the Kamloops Regional Correctional (Centre),” said defence counsel James Pennington.

Pennington said Williams was assaulted in his cell at KRCC after three of his fellow inmates “took exception” to the noise his flip flops made while he was walking.

“The next morning somebody came into his cell and assaulted him.”

“As I understand he never did get the surgery,” Pennington said. “The jail kept promising he was on the list to get surgery and the jail guards did talk to him and simply told him ‘don’t blow your nose too hard.’”

Williams told the court that three inmates at KRCC came into his cell the morning after a verbal altercation with another inmate. Williams alleged that the inmates told him to “fake a fall down the stairs” after inflicting the supposed injuries.

Crown counsel John Swanson disputed the claims of inadequate care in custody being used as a mitigating factor in Williams’ sentencing.

“The Crown disputes that in the strongest possible terms. Yes, I would prefer have evidence on that. I have absolutely no basis on which to concede that Mr. Williams was mistreated while he was at KRCC, or that he did not get property medical attention while at KRCC, or that (Pennington’s) suggestion that although (Williams) needed surgery, the doctors at the institution told him ‘well, just don’t blow your nose,’” Swanson said. “I would be flabbergasted if there was any truth at all.”

Swanson sought a sentence of three to four years jail. Pennington submitted a sentence range of two years jail time. Williams has been in custody since April 26, 2015.

Williams will return to court at an undetermined date, where he will be expected to prove the allegations of mistreatment.

Penticton Western News