Sentencing delayed as judge wants to see Penticton man with a notable criminal record get help

Stopping cycle of violence

A Penticton judge is not giving up on a man with a criminal record dating back to 2005, hoping to see him commit to changing his life rather than continue in incarceration.

Harley Jack, 34, was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of assault, which occurred while he was out on probation from another charge. He appeared on a video call from the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC).

Sentencing began on Thursday, where Crown prosecutor Garry Hansen presented the details of the incident to Judge Michelle Daneliuk.

On Nov. 12, 2020, at 9;53 a.m. a witness reported two males in a fight on the ground at 521 Martin Street.

Police were called and arrived to see the owner of the residence, pinning Jack to the ground. The owner told police that he had got on top of him after being grabbed by Jack, who had been hitting and punching him.

Earlier that morning when the owner was leaving his residence, he heard Jack screaming at him while walking up to his property, but couldn’t make out what he was saying.

As Jack got closer, the owner heard him saying ‘What’re you doing in my house, that’s my house,” to which the owner responded ‘What are you talking about?’

Jack gave no response but closed in on the owner and his arms started coming at him in an attack and a fight began. The pair ended up on the ground.

The owner started yelling for help while struggling with Jack, who had also started reaching for a broken glass bottle nearby on the ground. When the owner finally got control, a motorist had stopped to help him.

Two other witnesses were roofers working on a house, who saw the altercation after hearing the call for help but were initially worried to intervene. Eventually, when the motorists stopped, they helped the owner retain Jack.

The owner also told police that Jack was showing further erratic behaviour, entering into periods of calm where he didn’t know what was going on and why he was pinned down.

Jack has been held in custody since that time, with 64 days served so far at the OCC.

Crown added that although Jack’s criminal history is not exceptionally long, it is one of note. Including other counts of assaults, breaking probation and issues with alcohol and meth addiction.

Given the circumstances, the Crown asked for a range of four to six months in jail, followed by a 12-month probation.

Defence counsel James Pennington began his arguments plans with Jack’s plans for rehabilitation, working at getting him on the Martin Street Outreach Clinic list.

The judge questioned if he was successfully accepted or started anywhere yet and Pennington confirmed he had no connections in anywhere yet, as last time he was arrested again before starting.

“He’s come to the realization that he’s got a problem,” Pennington said, adding that he’s committed and willing to engage in measures to change.

Pennington detailed Jack’s past, which he called a ‘tragic but all too familiar background coming into this court.’

Jack and the rest of his family are members of the Penticton Indian Band, and his parents dealt with alcoholism issues themselves. His mother is now over 15 years sober, but the pattern runs back even longer to Jack’s grandparents.

“When the drinking and partying started, all the kids fled,” Pennington said.

Both Jack’s grandparents and great-grandparents were victims of residential schools and the effects wore on the family, according to defence.

Pennington brought up a previous incident of assault that occurred on Jan. 28, 2019, where RCMP officers were called to the 24/7 convenience store on Main Street in Penticton by an employee after Jack left the store without paying for several items.

Jack took the sandwiches because he believed he was owed them, acting again on what Pennington called a ‘belly full of booze.’

Then Judge Daneliuk voiced her concerns with the situation, adding that she is "very, very worried about moving forward with how they can stop the cycle."

“I have a serious concern for the protection of the public because people are allowed to walk out of their houses on a nice morning and go about their business without being attacked,” she said.

Daneliuk moved to adjourn to a later date, pushing her sentencing for when Jack is secured in a program, as he has "tried the patience of this court of Penticton enough with his repeat offences."

She added that if sentencing would occur at this time, she would be more inclined to give more than the Crown’s recommendation of six months of jail time.

“Not only will he be better off, our community will be better off,” Daneliuk said, turning to address Jack, “The time has come to decide what the rest of your life will look like.”

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