Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for January 2008

A systemic murder

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Another senseless murder of an innocent person committed by someone who should not have been on the streets but for a weak, broken justice system.

Yesterday, police in Calgary charged Christopher James Watcheston, 21, with the murder of Arcelie Laoagan, a 41 year old mother of five whose battered body was found a week ago near a public transit station. He was on bail at the time of the murder.

Lawyer and justice commentator Scott Newark had this to say in an email about this case. It’s worth sharing:


So let’s see…..guy gets charged with three assaults and doesn’t make bail for a couple of weeks. That suggests maybe a history not revealed in story. Shortly after release he commits more crimes…while on bail which is literally a promise he wouldn’t commit more crimes if court released him from charges of first set of crimes…but again he is released on bail and now charged in this murder.

A) We should be keeping track of this “profile” because quite literally the state had the capacity to have prevented this crime by taking notice of his continuing criminality but chose….consciously…to let him go…again….and take a chance…again….

B) There is a need for a review of the circumstances of the release of this person independent of the criminal trial. Did the Crown seek revocation of the original bail and oppose his release. If not, why not? Did the JP or provincial court judge reject such requests and order the release? Did someone say they would serve as a surety to enforce the deceptively described “house arrest”.

What’s needed is literally an examination of how the means of death came to be in a position to inflict death. These used to be done in Ontario by Coroner’s Inquest and we recommended an amendment to the Coroner’s Act (akin to when an inmate dies in custody) requiring an inquest when the person that unlawfully kills was released from lawful custody by the state and the amendment also stipulated that the releasing authority…including a judge or JP…is a compellable witness. There may be nothing “systemic” about this case but we’ll never know if no one asks.
The justice system is about to go into ‘we can’t talk about it’ mode supposedly to protect the accused’s right to a fair trial. Co-incidentally it also helps cover the system’s ass which is at least partially why these kinds of obviously preventable crimes keep occurring.


Scott’s last point is critical. The blatent nonsense so often used by elements in the justice system about why they cannot talk about their incompetence and ineffectiveness protects the system much more than the rights of an accused. That, perhaps, needs to get addressed before much can be done about a fundamentally broken justice system.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

January 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Media manipulation

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Seemingly, it doesn’t matter where you look in the mainstream media these days, but in most stories there’s a twist, a lean to the liberal left. It’s especially apparent in the Globe & Mail or the official organ of the Liberal Party of Canada, The Toronto Star.  But it is even showing up now in the most innocuous of straight news stories.

I have spent much of the first month of this year flying hither and yon, spending interminable hours waiting at airports, reading a variety of local papers.  And I started seeing this trend where it never used to be and in stories you never used to see it.

In today’s National Post, there was a news brief about a police raid on a home in Etobicoke, in east Toronto.  Police seized a sawed-off Ruger Mini 14, a clip which holds 19 rounds and 132 rounds of ammunition. The gun had been previously stolen.  A father and son, both justice system frequent flyers, were arrested.  All good.

But, to end the brief, some hand-wringing social engineer who toils away in some CanWest news room added this: The arrests came as Toronto Mayor David Miller called for a total ban on handgun ownership in the city.

What in the world does that have to do with the salient story? Absolutely nothing.  And why any self-respecting professional news editor would let that run probably speaks volumes.

In the first place the Mini 14 is a long-barelled weapon. Or at least it was in this case before it got sawed-off. And in the second place it was stolen.

This is simply the writer of the brief taking the opportunity to put Miller’s idiocy out there one more time to give it credibility.

Miller is a fool in this with his knee-jerk pronouncement, but I object to the media treating it as though it makes sense and then espousing it again and again in the vain hope that readers will suddenly become as foolish as the Mayor of Toronto.

Fortunately, readers are smarter than that. Well, except for the voters in Toronto who elected David Miller.

Leo Knight

– Leo Knight on Blackberry

Written by Leo Knight

January 17, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Double standard apparent

with 6 comments

Well, the holidays are over and I managed to contain my vitriol whenever I came across yet another story about political correctness run amok. The controversy generated by the Elmdale Public School in the Ottawa area was perhaps the best example of political correctness in the lunatic fringe, in this case best espoused by teachers and their inevitably wrong union.
But the story over the holidays that really got me was the one about the suspension of Burnaby Mountie Richard Jacques for 10 days.
Constable Jacques was found guilty of abusing his position to help his girlfriend leave the scene of an accident. He was also found guilty on separate occasions, by either not following orders or failing to properly investigate crimes ranging from a break-and-enter to an attempted abduction. Pretty serious stuff one would think. But not serious enough to make the officer pay forfeit with his job.
So, if I understand this correctly, this member demonstrated he is not prepared to follow policy and, perhaps more to the point, lacked the integrity to follow the law and his duty and deliberately engaged in activity that should be more properly described as obstruction, a criminal code offence.
And for all of that, the RCMP gave Cst. Jacques a 10 day suspension. Ten days for turning his back on the oath he took and permanently destroying any credibility he would need to be involved in any prosecution he may be involved with in the future.
I’m appalled frankly. How is it that Cpl. Robert Read and Staff Sergeant Bob Stenhouse, were fired for doing nothing more than telling the truth and this guy gets a ten day rip?
There’s no question that both Read and Stenhouse coloured outside the lines as laid out within the RCMP when they spoke to folks outside the Force because the bureaucracy within was failing miserably. That was wrong. But if it was wrong enough to get fired, how in the world can the Force justify the continued employment of someone like Cst. Jacques?
Read and Stenhouse were trying to do the right thing and got fired by the pointy-headed bureaucrats that run the RCMP. Jacques was trying to circumvent the law and abused his position as a police officer. He will never again have the credibility necessary to mount a successful prosecution, something which is central to his job. Why isn’t the Force holding him up to the same standard as two members who were actually trying to do the right thing?
I have a major problem with this double standard.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

January 7, 2008 at 7:01 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment