Feb 27, 2013 / 8:32 am
The philosophical question of whether a person should be sentenced based on character and relationships, or on the crime alone is at the root of a dilemma facing Justice D Allan Betton.
He is the judge presiding over the sentencing of admitted Hells Angel member Joseph Bruce Skreptak, who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
The court heard that Skreptak used intimidation to exact an unprovoked and senseless attack on John Jenson; the father of a boy who Skreptak believed had stolen jewelry from him. The man needed reconstructive surgery to his face for the damage he sustained and was later put into witness protection along with his son, before Skreptak changed his plea to guilty on the last business day before a trial was set to begin.
On a night in November 2010, Skreptak showed up to the Jenson home around 10:30 p.m. with four associates, and was not wearing any gang colours at the time. John did not know who Skreptak was and repeatedly asked him to leave. Things escalated, Skreptak became infuriated and punched Jenson in the face, knocking him backwards onto his bed and struck him at least four more times over the next 15-20 minutes while Jenson’s son was forced to watch, said Crown counsel Catherine Fedder.
She painted a picture of Skreptak using his association with the Hells Angels to intimidate the Jenson’s into admitting what he believed to be true, and beat the father in front of the son to send a message and get him to talk.
Skreptak’s lawyer Brian Jackson freely admits his client assaulted the man, but contends it was because Jenson had ‘lipped off’ to Skreptak, and that was what prompted the beating.
The situation began two months before the assault, when Skreptak’s stepson invited Jenson’s son and another boy to his lakefront home. That’s when he believes the boys stole $10,000 worth of jewelry from him, later selling the goods on the street for marijuana.
Skreptak later took around pictures of the two boys to various pawnshops, where one owner identified them as trying to pawn a Movado watch with a special inscription, one of the stolen items initially given to Skreptak by his spouse.
Fedder is asking for a three-year sentence, while Jackson would like 18 months with extra credit for time already served in custody and his almost two-year house arrest.
Justice Betton reserved his decision until April and appeared to have difficulty determining whether Skreptak committed the assault under the shroud of an alleged criminal organization, or as a form of vigilante justice.
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