Violent criminal has history of brain injuries, Sudbury hearing told

Crown wants Jean-Claude Breton declared a dangerous offender

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When Jean-Claude Breton had finished with court on Aug. 13, 2019, he headed down the stairs and into a tunnel connecting the Sudbury Courthouse to the Sudbury Jail.


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“I observed him adjusting his clothing and removing what appeared to be a sock from his pocket and stuffing it down his waistband,” Tracy McCandless testified Tuesday on the first day of Breton’s dangerous offender hearing. “… Mr. Breton came up towards me, a 30-40 foot walk to the search bay (at the jail). He took out his garment bag, which was on the hook.

“When he had changed, I grabbed the garment bag… I found a bottle of cologne and I found what we call a homemade weapon or shank. It was a razor blade. There was electrical tape around the handle and it was found inside a cardboard sleeve. ”

McCandless – a Sudbury Jail admitting and discharge officer – was one of two jail employees to testify Tuesday

The other, Paul Morin, also an admitting and discharge officer, said he did a “pat down” of Breton as he entered the search bay before changing back into jail clothing and found nothing.

Morin, however, said he did not recall patting down Breton’s waist area although it was the usual practice to do so.

He said he examined the homemade weapon after it was discovered.

“It had a length of approximately five inches,” he recalled. “It was constructed of cardboard and masking tape. It had a sheath… It had a length of razor blade attached. ”

Morin said a misconduct report was prepared and noted Breton said he was guilty and that the weapon was not for staff. Morin said Breton, already in segregation, received a penalty of seven days of no television or canteen access.


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In cross-examination by Breton’s lawyer, Sherif Foda of Toronto, Morin was asked if it was true that Breton had never injured anyone at the jail with a sharp object.

Morin said it was.

Foda asked Morin if he knew Breton suffered a serious injury at the jail in June 2017 in which a foreign body was lodged in his head for some time. Foda asked whether Breton, after that attack, appeared sometimes to make no sense.

Morin said he did.

The lawyer also asked Morin if he was aware of another misconduct incident at the jail in December 2018, during which Breton was taking swings and yelling “I run this place. I’m not allowed to get mad in here. Why is that not allowed? I’m going crazy. “

Morin said he knew about it.

“Compared to others, his behavior was simply nonsensical: you could not even make out what he was saying?” asked Foda.

Morin replied that was true.

Tuesday was the first day of Breton’s dangerous offender hearing, which is expected to take several weeks.

Breton, 38, has been awaiting sentencing for almost three years concerning eight charges he was convicted of in March 2019. The charges include forcible confinement, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer (spitting).

The charges stem from a series of incidents in Greater Sudbury on Aug. 15, 2017.

Breton has been in custody for about four years. He will not be sentenced on the eight charges until Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande rules on the Crown’s dangerous offender application.


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The hearing has been delayed in large part because of the pandemic coronavirus and its impact on Ontario’s court system.

A dangerous offender designation is reserved for Canada’s most violent criminals and sexual predators. Crown attorneys must show there is a high risk the criminal will commit violent or sexual offences in the future.

The designation carries an automatic prison sentence for an indefinite period, with no chance of parole for seven years.

If a judge rejects a dangerous offender application, a long-term offender classification could then be applied. A long-term offender is seen as a lesser risk to re-offend; such a designation carries a defined sentence and a long-term supervision order.

If a judge decides neither designation is appropriate, regular sentencing would then occur.

Breton’s criminal record features numerous convictions for violence; for example, he stabbed a man outside the Nickel City Hotel in 2012. And he was given the equivalent of a seven-year sentence in 2007 for smashing a woman’s nose with a baseball bat in Toronto during a drug deal.

In her opening statement, Assistant Crown attorney Julie Lefebvre said the law recognizes certain offenders pose a serious threat and should be kept in custody indefinitely.

“Jean-Claude Breton is one of those offenders,” she said. In other words, Jean-Claude Breton poses a threat to the life, security and well-being of others based on the repetitive pattern of his conduct. He poses a further risk of future harm by not rehabilitating his behavior towards others. ”


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Lefebvre told Justice Lalande that an indeterminate jail sentence is appropriate. If Laldone disagrees, she said a lengthy penitentiary sentence with strong supervision upon release is required to protect the public.

“The Crown takes the position that another two years on top of four years in… can adequately protect the public against the offender committing another serious personal injury offence,” she said.

Foda, in his opening remarks, said there was no argument that Breton has displayed a pattern of aggressive behavior in the past, but noted his client has suffered numerous traumatic brain injuries. Three of those injuries, he said, occurred while Breton was in custody.

“These brain injuries, coupled with extensive use of segregation and closed confinement, which in our respectful submission, with inadequate treatment plans, contributed to his offending behavior that speaks to his risk of re-offending,” said Foda.

He said Breton should received a reformatory sentence of two years less a day with a “strong recommendation” it be served at the St. Lawrence Correctional and Treatment Center in Brockville.

There, “Mr. Breton ought to have access to forensic psychiatrists and strict, extensive monitoring, followed by monitoring in the community.

“We suggest a long-term supervision order should be imposed, but that depends on the evidence your honor will hear the next few weeks.”

The dangerous offender hearing continues Wednesday.

Twitter: @HaroldCarmichae

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