Man’s release from jail hinges on housing

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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A man with a history of mental illness who chased his father and stepmother with a chainsaw will learn his fate next week.

Taylor Mitchellis seen with a sheriff's officer in provincial court in St. John's today. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

The sentencing hearing for Taylor Mitchell was held in provincial court in St. John’s this afternoon.

Judge Jim Walsh agreed to postpone making his sentencing decision to allow Mitchell’s lawyer time to find living accommodations for her client — which would be a condition Mitchell must abide by if he is released.

The 22-year-old was taken into custody Jan. 14 after he tried to attack the couple at his grandparents’ house on Thorburn Road.

He pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, uttering threats, assault and breaching court orders.

Mitchell also pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance at the Waterford Hospital in October 2013, when he stormed into a doctor’s office and demanded medication.

Crown prosecutor Mike Murray has asked the judge to give Mitchell a six- to eight-month jail term, with 18 months’ probation, pointing to the seriousness of the offences.

Defence lawyer Joan Dawson suggested time served, with a year’s probation.

She said Mitchell — who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizo affective disorder — is “a young man with complex mental health issues,” as well as addictions.

She said between the ages of 17 and 21, he was admitted to a psychiatric unit eight times — seven of them at the Waterford Hospital.

Dawson said Mitchell had no criminal record before these incidents and got in trouble six days after he was released from hospital.

The judge expressed concern about releasing Mitchell if he has no place to live. Dawson said she will try to help him find a place but it will be difficult given that Mitchell’s source of income — social assistance — was stopped when he was incarcerated.

She pointed out that a sentence should not change because a person is homeless.

Walsh disagreed and said his duty is to protect the public.

He is expected to render his decision Thursday.

rgillingham@thetelegram

Twitter: TelyCourt

Organizations: Waterford Hospital

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