Jesso still a threat to the public, belongs in jail: Crown

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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When it comes to sexual assaults, they were at the low end of the scale.

The defence said it and the judge agreed.

"I can't see it being much lower," Judge Mark Pike said.

But for the Crown, it wasn't as much the offences, but who committed them.

Hector Jesso

When it comes to sexual assaults, they were at the low end of the scale.

The defence said it and the judge agreed.

"I can't see it being much lower," Judge Mark Pike said.

But for the Crown, it wasn't as much the offences, but who committed them.

"Even sexual assaults in which there's no violence or threats involved can still be very serious if the person has a serious (criminal) record," prosecutor Mike Murray said.

And Hector Jesso certainly does.

Jesso, who turns 64 next week, has spent decades behind bars since the 1970s, for such violent crimes as robbery, assault and sexual assaults.

Not long after he finished serving a four-year sentence for assaulting a woman, he was arrested again in September, when a woman reported to police Jesso had grabbed her breasts on two occasions.

At the time, Jesso was living under conditions imposed by the court under Section 810, of the Criminal Code, which allows a judge to restrict the actions of someone who is a risk to the community.

He was found guilty, after a trial in February, of two counts of sexual assault and breaching three court orders, which stipulated he stay away from alcohol and be of good behaviour.

On the night of the offences, Jesso had been drinking beer.

During his sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John's Thursday, Murray called this a serious violation of court orders and said Jesso belongs in jail for at least another year, followed by two years' probation.

"I suggest the primary concern should be the protection of the public," Murray said.

"While rehabilitation is always a consideration, it plays a pretty diminished role in what's we're dealing with here."

Murray pointed out that even provincial Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges have commented in the past on Jesso's lack of effort "to mend his ways" and his pattern of reoffending.

But when he took the stand Thursday, Jesso said all he needs to get his life back on track are a good job and the right kind of counselling - which, he said, he's never received in all his years in jail.

"Nobody's offered me counselling. Nobody wanted to help Hector Jesso ...," he said. "Nobody's ever recognized what I needed."

He said if he's released from jail, he would like to get one-on-one counselling and vows to get treatment for his drinking problem.

"If I'm drinking, oh yes, I will get in trouble," he said under cross-examination by Murray.

While he admitted he had been drinking on the night in question, Jesso denied sexually assaulting the woman.

"I had a slip," he said, "but I never committed no crime."

Jesso's lawyer, Garrett O'Brien, said his client has spent enough time in jail.

He suggested the judge consider time served for Jesso, with three years' probation.

O'Brien - who pointed out that many of Jesso's previous crimes date back to almost 30 years ago - said the most recent sexual assault was "as minor and brief of a sexual assault as you're going to see in court."

He said Jesso is determined to get his life straightened out.

O'Brien's own family members testified during the hearing on Jesso's behalf.

Under questioning by co-counsel Alan Henry, O'Brien's 84-year-old mother, Margaret O'Brien, and O'Brien's wife, Carol O'Brien, both testified that Jesso spent a lot of time at their houses over the years and said he is considered part of the family.

Both said they knew of Jesso's criminal background, but said they still trusted him.

Margaret O'Brien has offered to let Jesso live with her when he gets out of jail until he gets back on his feet.

"He's got a plan ...," Garrett O'Brien told the judge. "So, he's doing something to ensure he doesn't come back here."

Pike will sentence Jesso March 30.

rgillingham@thetelegram

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: St. John's

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