Grant Tapper Telegram file photo
Correctional officers have a difficult job and need the protection of the law when faced with violent situations.
That's the message Judge David Orr delivered Wednesday in provincial court in sentencing a man who attacked a correctional officer last fall at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's.
Grant Tapper, 24 of Torbay, was give a nine-month jail term for assaulting a correctional officer in October 2009.
According to the facts of the case, Tapper lunged across the desk at the guard, pinned him down, punched him continuously in the back of the head and then held him over a railing.
The officer was not seriously injured and Tapper was transferred to segregation.
"When (correctional officers) are subject to violence, courts must act quickly," Orr said during the sentencing hearing.
"Correctional officers have to be treated with respect."
At the time of the incident, Tapper was at HMP awaiting trial on a sexual assault charge involving a 13-year-old girl. He was eventually acquitted of that charge, but was given a one-year sentence for sexual interference and breaching court orders.
Wednesday's nine-month sentence was agreed upon by both defence lawyer Jeff Brace and Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves.
Brace said his client had been going through a difficult time in prison and wasn't being treated well because of the sexual assault allegations against him.
"These sort of allegations are not received very well within the correction system," Brace said.
"He was having a difficult time with this particular correctional officer. And while it's no excuse, the reality is he was given a hard time because there was a presumption he raped this young girl. It all came to a head (that day). He reached his tipping point."
But Steeves later said there was no evidence presented in court to suggest Tapper had been mistreated by correctional officers.
The nine-month jail term will run consecutively with Tapper's prior sentence, which is due to expire in May.
Tapper has an extensive criminal record and has served prison time for other serious offences.
On Jan. 27, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for a savage attack on a fellow inmate at HMP last spring.
At that sentencing hearing, provincial court Chief Judge Mark Pike called Tapper "a dangerous man."
In June 2009, Tapper was sentenced to 23 months in prison for dangerous driving causing bodily harm and breach of probation as a result of a crash on June 22, 2008, near Flatrock, where his car struck another car and a woman was seriously injured. Tapper's passenger was also injured.
In that case, he got 21 months' credit for the time he'd spent in custody awaiting trial, leaving two months to serve.
He was banned from driving for three years and was placed on three years' probation.