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Ikiakik Sillett’s criminal record is on the thick side, held together with a binder clip since a staple would surely not hold its 39 pages.
Among his convictions are violent offences, including sexual assault, assaults causing bodily harm, assaults with weapons, assault causing bodily harm, break and entry, damage to property and dozens of breaches of court orders. The Parole Board of Canada, in a decision last year, noted Sillett has earned himself a reputation in his hometown of Hopedale as a person women should avoid, due to his serious crimes.
It was a conviction last year for sexual assault causing bodily harm — after an attack on a woman in her driveway that left her with multiple injuries — that resulted in a Wabush provincial court judge sentencing Sillett to a long-term supervision order for a period of 10 years. These orders are usually imposed in cases where the court determines that there is a substantial risk that a sex offender will re-offend, and extends the time the Correctional Service of Canada can supervise and support that person in the community once they have completed their regular sentence.
In Sillett’s case, the parole board chose to include a one-year halfway house residency condition with that order with no leave privileges, as well as conditions to stay away from drugs and alcohol, among others.
This week, Sillett was in provincial court in St. John’s, having breached the conditions of his order 13 times over the past year or so, including immediately after his release, by consuming drugs and alcohol and failing to return to the halfway house as required.
“He made a choice. He had choices and he chose to smoke marijuana and drink,” Judge James Walsh said Thursday, pointing his finger directly at Sillett.
"He knew what the rules were... and he made choices to breach continuously. It didn’t matter who was trying to work with him.” — Judge James Walsh
Defence lawyer Ken Hollett argued that Sillett’s supervisors had been aware of his breaches but hadn’t reported them to police right away, allowing the behaviour to continue.
“I have submissions that they were trying to work with Mr. Sillett and help him and ease him back into society by having him improve and rehabilitate,” Walsh responded. “I have no doubt that Mr. Sillett knew the difference. He knew what the rules were... and he made choices to breach continuously. It didn’t matter who was trying to work with him.”
Hollett spoke of Sillett’s diagnoses of fetal alcohol syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder, and pointed to his upbringing in an isolated community of northern Labrador, in a home where there was violence.
Hollett spoke of Sillett’s aboriginal heritage, which is, under Canadian law, to be considered by judges during sentencing in terms of how adverse background and cultural impact factors may have influenced an offender’s actions. The parole board noted the same in its report.
“Inuit families living in the small settlements were relocated during the 1950s to more southerly communities without their consent or input. The families had no desire to leave their traditional hunting grounds for new communities, where they had to claim to hunting grounds, and a reliance on welfare developed,” the parole board said of Sillett. "Many families turned to alcohol abuse and social problems in Inuit communities increased. Your home life was one of poverty, substance abuse and violence.”
Prosecutor Shawn Patten acknowledged Sillett’s heritage has an impact on his behaviour, and agreed with his need for sensitive treatment and rehabilitation. All the same, his risk to reoffend is great, Patten said, presenting Sillett’s criminal record to the judge.
“Your Honour, he is at risk to commit violent crimes when he is under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It seems to me it’s a choice that he makes for his own benefit in many respects, even though it may be a coping mechanism.
“I suggest this offender needs to be incarcerated for an extended period of time to protect the public.”
For Sillett’s 13 breaches of his supervision order, Patten suggested a jail term of 18 to 24 months, with basic credit given for the time he has spent in custody. Hollett suggested a jail term of nine months minus enhanced credit, which would leave Sillett with about two months left to serve before being released to live in the community under the conditions of the supervision order again. Walsh will deliver his decision Sept. 6.
MORE BY TARA BRADBURY