UPDATE: Crockwell sentencing hearing set for 11 a.m. Thursday

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Leo Crockwell in Newfoundland Supreme Court. — Telegram file photo

A sentencing hearing for Leo Crockwel will be held 11 a.m. Thursday in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

Crockwell's stay of  proceedings application was dismissed today by Justice Richard LeBlanc.

The jury's guilty verdicts stand.

LeBlanc said the RCMP was justified in the actions officers took and that they were not excessive.

He said police, in fact, showed great restraint not entering the home, whereas Crockwell was the very opposite, showing aggressive behaviour, firing shots and endangering the lives of officers.

"Mr Crockwell was the author of his own misfortune in many ways," the judge said.

LeBlanc also said the information police had from the 1998 incident was not the only information officers used to assess the situation.

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Earlier story

Leo Crockwell told a judge that RCMP officers went way too far in trying to flush him out of his family's home.

"They didn't have to do all they did," Crockwell said Monday in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

"They said they did it all, smashed out all the windows, to get my attention. After they smashed out the first window, they had my attention.

"But to keep it going for a week, that was just reckless destruction of property."

Crockwell made the arguments during a stay of proceedings hearing, in which he represented himself in an effort to have proceedings halted against him.

On June 1, a jury convicted Crockwell of four charges in connection with an eight-day standoff that happened December 2010 at his family's Bay Bulls home.

He was found guilty of assaulting his sister with a weapon (a gun), using a weapon in the commission of a crime, carelessly using a firearm and mischief by interfering with property.

The 57-year-old is facing a minimum five-year prison sentence.

However, the court must first deal with the application, which was filed months ago by Crockwell's lawyer at the time, Ken Mahoney.

Justice Richard LeBlanc opted to deal with the application after the trial.

If successful, the application would stop or suspend legal action against Crockwell and could quash the jury's decision.

If it's not successful, LeBlanc said he would then proceed to sentencing.

Crockwell - who represented himself at his seven-week trial - opted to argue the application himself after he parted ways with his sixth lawyer, John Brooks, shortly before Christmas.

At the hearing, Crockwell argued that his Charter rights were violated by the RCMP.

The basis of the application contends the RCMP used excessive force during the standoff.

That included the use of snipers, robotic equipment, a spike belt, "excessive and inhumane" amounts of tear gas, stun grenades, gas ferrets, distractionary devices, a boom box, a battering ram and machine guns.

Water cannons were used to pump approximately 60,000 gallons of water through the home at a time when the house was vacant and Crockwell had already slipped out undetected.

"I don't know how you can justify that. ... All this for one person," Crockwell said. "This was just too much."

He said it resulted in reckless destruction of property, including smashing windows and slashing tires on his vehicle. Crockwell said all this was done by officers who did not announce their intentions.

Crockwell spent much of his time talking about the police's initial reaction when they first got the complaint from his sister.

He argued the RCMP reasserted that he had a history of mental illness, "when, in fact, this initial assertion was made by RNC/RCMP in 1998 to cover up criminal activity by the police forces at the time."

He was referring to a 1998 incident when Crockwell was reportedly wrongfully detained at the Waterford Hospital for 140 days.

He argued that police used this to perceive him to be a threat to the public, which he said, was fabricated evidence and prejudicial to him.

"The RCMP's consequent ill-based determination that the applicant was a 'very dangerous,' 'paranoid schizophrenic' was an allegation founded on nothing," his application states.

Crockwell told the judge, "Allegations by the RCMP that I was a threat to the public was actually a hoax."

St. John's lawyer Randy Piercey, who is amicus - or friend of the court - in the case, said Crockwell makes a good point that it was not a measured reaction by the RCMP, who used more tear gas against Crockwell than they had against any other individual.

Piercey added that officers "took rumours of the 1998 incident and used that (information) to craft the attack on his house."

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany responded by saying that officers looked at the 1998 incident as part of the process in determining the risk assessment and used it to figure out how to best deal with the situation with the goal of coming to a peaceful resolution.

She pointed out that police were aware that Crockwell had firearms in the house and that he had fired them. She said to keep in mind what officers were faced with.

"While everyone can second guess looking back at it, if we look at the situation, it was a measured response by officers who were trying to result in a peaceful resolution," she said.

She said officers didn't go in with guns blazing. They initially tried to open the lines of communication with Crockwell, who had no interest in talking with officers.

She said the measures police officers took on the house were not to destroy it. It was part of an overall plan to have things end peacefully.

"It was not a situation in which they were trying to (be) confrontational, but trying to work with him to leave the property," Ivany said.

The judge will render his decision Wednesday afternoon.

Organizations: RCMP, Waterford Hospital

Geographic location: Bay Bulls, St. John's

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  • Smart Man
    February 14, 2013 - 10:26

    He knew from the beginning that he will be sentenced. He knows that time in remand while on trail is like time and a half. So, he is ranking up as much remand time as possible so when he is sentenced it is time served or very little extra time all while keeping himself occupied by the drama in the courts rather than the dullness of the jailhouse.