UPDATE: Leo Crockwell gets four years, minus time served for offences related to Bay Bulls standoff

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Rosie Gillingham
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Justice Richard LeBlanc said he faced a dilemma on sentencing in difficult case

Justice Richard LeBlanc will render his decision on sentencing for Leo Crockwell today at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Leo Crockwell was sentenced to four years in prison today for offences related to his December 2010 standoff with the RCMP.

The time Crockwell has already served in custody comes off the sentence to leave 21 months and 25 days left to serve on the sentence.

 

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(Earlier story)

In more than two decades on the bench, Justice Richard LeBlanc has sentenced many offenders, but none quite like Leo Crockwell.

Today, LeBlanc will decide how much time the 57-year-old Bay Bulls man — who made headlines for his December 2010 standoff with the RCMP — will spend in jail.

The tough part for the judge will be figuring out the appropriate sentence for a man who put many lives at risk by firing a gun, but was reportedly mentally unstable at the time, yet refuses to acknowledge it.

“I’ve been a judge for more than 20 years and I always found sentencing to be ethically challenging,” LeBlanc said Thursday during Crockwell’s sentencing hearing at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

“You have to take into consideration public protection and the accused’s rights.

“This presents some interesting and difficult challenges for me — how to deal with someone who clearly has mental issues but an inability to recognize it, and has a lack of remorse, which has to be a concern for the public in the future.”

Four-year minimum

One thing’s for sure: Crockwell will get at least a four-year prison sentence. That’s the mandatory minimum sentence for one of the charges for which he was found guilty — discharging a firearm in the commission of a crime.

A jury, on June 1, 2012, also found him guilty of assaulting his sister with a weapon (a gun), carelessly using a firearm and mischief by interfering with property, all stemming from the eight-day standoff that began Dec. 4, 2010, at his family’s Bay Bulls home.

Lawyers originally thought  Crockwell would get at least a five-year prison sentence, since the careless use of a firearm charge has a mandatory minimum one-year term.

However, LeBlanc said Thursday he could decide to have that time be served during the four-year term, since those charges originated from separate incidents — the more serious one of firing a firearm involved the police, while the careless use of a firearm charge was laid as a result of an incident that happened with his mother and sister prior to the police arriving that day.

 

Making their arguments

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany and lawyer Randy Piercey, who is acting as amicus curiae or meditator in the case, both agree the minimum sentence should be imposed.

The issue is how much credit Crockwell should get for the time he’s already spent behind bars.

Ivany said Crockwell should get straight-time credit, since there were no special circumstances to warrant more credit. In fact, she said, Crockwell was responsible for most of the delays in the case — having gone through six lawyers before finally representing himself at the seven-week trial.

“There’s nothing to suggest there should be a higher rate (than one-for-one time),” Ivany said.

She added that offences dealing with firearms pose the ultimate threat of killing someone, and said Crockwell knew the police were outside his house but still put them at risk.

She also pointed to Crockwell’s attitude in his interactions with police.

“No authority was going to deter him, which ultimately placed these officers at risk,” she said.

While there’s always a hope of rehabilitation, she said based on Crockwell’s attitude, it’s not a sure thing.

She said giving Crockwell the minimum sentence with a lengthy period of probation is only setting him up to breach his conditions.

When Crockwell spoke, he took issue with the suggestion he has a mental health issue.

“With stun grenades and gas grenades, I don’t think anyone would be operating 100 per cent (mental capacity) at the time,” he said.

He also objected to the mandatory minimum sentence of four years, saying, “the crime does not fit the time,” since he didn’t harm anybody.

Piercey said while the judge ruled the police did not act improperly, he does have to take into consideration the fact that their actions did have an effect on Crockwell’s behaviour.

“Not so much to punish (police), but to recognize Mr. Crockwell has suffered consequences,” said Piercey, noting the destruction of the Crockwell home.

Piercey also said Crockwell’s mental health issues should be factored into sentencing. He said giving Crockwell the shortest possible sentence, with a longer period of probation that would include counselling, would better serve justice.

“When it comes to concern for the public, this may be the best way to control it,” he said.

 

Sentencing possibilities

Crockwell has been in custody since Dec. 11, 2010.

With straight-time credit, if Crockwell is sentenced to five years, he would have 34 months left on his term. At four years, it would leave 22 months.

With 1.5 times credit, a five-year sentence would leave 21 months on his term. With a four-year sentence, he would have nine months left. If he gets the latter sentence, he could be out of jail in six months, once he had served two-thirds of the remaining nine months.

 

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Bay Bulls

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Recent comments

  • Courtwatch
    February 16, 2013 - 14:02

    Justme, you suggest all this is retribution against Leo, for the prior incident where he was illegally detained and locked up at the Waterford, and later proved it was illegal. If so, we have a pretty sick system. Some journalistic investigation needed? But not much of that is ever done. Entertainment and headlines is more important.

  • JustMe
    February 15, 2013 - 21:03

    They, the police, closed down a whole communtiy, and it's businesses for the length of time it took Mr. Crockwell to outsmart them, and end up in the Goulds. It makes me sick, when I see the courts give lesser sentences to pedophiles. Leo, if he needs help, should get it, not spend more time in jail. He made some people, look like A@@hol@s before, this is what prompted tha hoopla that happened in Bay Bulls.

  • Law Abiding
    February 15, 2013 - 21:02

    The RNC should police the whole province. They got this man very easily and safely. The mounties spent a fortune and in return tarnished an already bad reputation. There has to be better training for the mounties so that the next time they don't allow the public to be put in harms way due to their poor management of a serious situation. Better still replace them with the RNC. I hope the poor man gets the help he needs and the woman gets a new house.

  • Marlene
    February 15, 2013 - 16:54

    bottom line is justice system sucks.....murderers get off a month ago and Leo goes to jail for out smarting a legal system because even though he got this sentence i bet ya dollars to doughnuts he is back in his cell laughing at the system. Keep smiling Leo whats 21 months after already serving the same amount of time. Those who believe in ya will be waiting.

  • Bogus
    February 15, 2013 - 16:05

    Was the night that Leo Crockwell got away from the RCMP that had his house surrounded...lol

  • Dee
    February 15, 2013 - 10:29

    Give us a break court watcher,this man put a lot of people in danger i'm sure the police would have been happier spending their time at the station,or better yet there could have been another emergency else where.Another thing if a person is capable of looking after themselves with a mental illness then they cannot be forced to take treatment or medication.We went to court and try and have a court order to have a brother in law medicated for his illness,but because he could speak for himself we could not do anything.,he would wonder of for days,sleep in the street until he picked up a lung infection and died at the age of 51.But the only one he brought harm to was himself,so if this man needs help then the courts need to handle this.He,s much smarter then you think.He,s a bully to family and I guess that's the way he was his whole life.

    • Courtwatch
      February 15, 2013 - 10:56

      Dee, I wonder if you ever studied the side effects of some medications used? Many actually cause brain damage on top of any other problem. Some prefer to live in the streets rather than suffer the med side effects. Support of family and friends is important.

    • Courtwatch
      February 15, 2013 - 10:56

      Dee, I wonder if you ever studied the side effects of some medications used? Many actually cause brain damage on top of any other problem. Some prefer to live in the streets rather than suffer the med side effects. Support of family and friends is important.

  • darren
    February 15, 2013 - 08:07

    Throw the book at him and give him the maximum possible. He doesn't care about anyone but himself, so much so he thinks he doens't have a mental problem.

    • Catherine
      February 15, 2013 - 14:06

      I couldn't agree with you more Darren. He has no regard for anyone but himself and I truly believe this won't be the last the police will see of Crockwell. Eventually he will get out of jail, and with his attitude I don't see him taking well to any kind of counselling or medications, seeing as he doesn't even think he has a mental issue.

    • Miner
      February 15, 2013 - 15:45

      99.9% of all people only care about themselves.

  • Dee
    February 15, 2013 - 08:03

    My opinion the man should be put away for 10 years,Mr Crockwell certainly knew what he was doing,he played everyone including the justice system,did you not see his mom and sister in court they look like they have been though hell give them some peace and do the right thing put him away.

  • COURTWATCH
    February 15, 2013 - 08:01

    I once called the Rcmp, having heard a gun being discharged, and hearing loud voices from several men in their late 20s drinking. About 10 minutes later 2 rcmp cars pulled up. One stood behind a utility poll with a rifle aimed toward the house and men. Things went quiet and more than a hour later the police cars left without further incident. I afterward partly regretted having called the police, as there was a high risk they could have shot my neighbour.he drank too much and would party and sometimes argue with his buddies. But for the most part , an alright fella. But in the end , no one was charged. Whether they took and kept his gun , I,m not sure. i guess those officers used their discressiion.That was about 12 years ago, and there was never another incident like that. I explained to my neighbour that I had called the police and he understood. A good lawyer would have brought up case law to the benefit of Crocker. Appropriate police action could have diffused this matter preventing the charges.Crockwell has been railroaded and screwed by our justice system. The judge says he has mental issues... why not cut him a some slack. He has plenty of past experience to distrust the justice system. Don't add to it , suggesting it would protect the public. This is more about protecting the image of theRCMP and the reputation of our justice system, and treatment or mistreatment of a person with some disability issue. But he is far from the character, an RCMP officer now charged yesterday, with abuse of children, including having one chained up in the basement . This case needs some sense of proportion: that Crocker injured no one, and has suffered considerable consequences.

    • Catherine
      February 15, 2013 - 14:11

      Appropriate action by the police could have diffused the matter? He barricaded himself inside the house as soon as the police got there. Crockwell's the criminal, not the police. He's a loose cannon who refuses to believe he has a mental illnesss, but is nonetheless extremely intelligent with the way he screwed around with the justice system. To me those two together equate for a very dangerous, unstable, unpredictable man who needs to be locked up for everyone's protection.

  • Jeremiah
    February 15, 2013 - 07:36

    Time served and arrange fot this victim of the system to get the help he needs.

  • NLFringe
    February 15, 2013 - 07:11

    I think the time should be factored against him for the parody of the legal system he managed through the whole ordeal. Then again he only managed the series of delays because of the system. Just let him go and be done with it, all the other criminals get to go home...might save money on the upcoming provinical budget.