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Michael Stacey told the court he doesn’t recall threatening six police officers or assaulting a correction officer, due to a psychotic episode
A man who caused the Health Sciences Centre to go into lockdown mode after he made a bomb threat to an employee there last December told the court Thursday he has no recollection of the event, because he was experiencing an episode of psychosis.
Michael Stacey, 42, said he also had no memory of pointing one by one to six of the police officers who responded to the incident at the hospital and threatening to kill them.
Likewise, Stacey said he had no recollection of having used a cast he was sporting on his arm at the time of his arrest to assault a correctional officer when he was taken to the lockup.
Nevertheless, Stacey was convicted of these charges in provincial court in St. John's Thursday, after a short trial last week during which he represented himself.
Just before 7 a.m. on Dec. 19, Stacey entered the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's, saying he was carrying explosives. Police arrived at the hospital and cordoned off the area before arresting Stacey and finding him not to have any explosive devices. Stacey was taken into custody and the hospital was given the all clear about an hour later.
Prosecutor Tannis King noted the serious nature of the incident, which she said was caused by Stacey having a temper tantrum.
"It was, essentially, a temper tantrum of sorts, however it was very dangerous. It caused the closure of an emergency room at the city's primary hospital," King said. "What if a critical patient had presented? What if a cardiac patient had been presented and had to be turned down because the emergency room was shut down by Mr. Stacey, who simply wanted to talk to the media?"
"It was, essentially, a temper tantrum of sorts, however it was very dangerous." — Prosecutor Tannis King
The assault on the correctional officer, King said, was violence without reason.
King presented Stacey's criminal record to the court — which included 17 pages of convictions, dating up to 2015. She also presented a report from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Jasbir Gill, who assessed Stacey about a week after his arrest and noted he had been self-harming by hitting his head in Her Majesty's Penitentiary and had a reported history of substance-induced psychosis and possible anti-social personality disorder. Gill noted Stacey had denied having substance abuse issues. Gill reported an unclear diagnosis, with nothing to explain his recent actions, said King.
King also presented a report from Stacey's classification officer at HMP, which noted he had been segregated from the prison population numerous times since his arrest. Incidents alleged to include covering a surveillance camera, throwing a meal tray at staff, banging his head, yelling, hoarding medication, and acting aggressively and demanding, the officer wrote.
"The type of behaviour we've heard about requires high level general and specific deterrence," King told judge Mike Madden. "He is 42 years old but shows no signs of changing his behaviour, despite previous periods of incarceration.
King suggested a prison term of 18 months in total for Stacey, followed by two years of probation, a 10-year weapons ban and an order not to visit the Health Sciences Centre except for medical appointments.
Stacey called the Crown's suggestion "criminal," based on the evidence that had been presented at trial. He noted that the responding police officers, correctional officers and Gill had all described him as being in an agitated state in the days after his arrest, and said their testimony corroborates his insistence that he was in a state of psychosis at the time of his crimes.
"I don't believe I was there to intentionally harm anybody." — Michael Stacey
"I'm not saying an induced psychosis justifies my actions, but an induced psychosis can cause hallucinations, can cause memory loss, can cause psychological imbalances in the brain, as anyone with a doctorate would know," Stacey said.
Stacey also asked the judge to consider his lack of criminal record over the past four years, saying he had been trying his best to stay clean and take care of his loved ones.
"I don't believe I was there to intentionally harm anybody," he said. "I do believe I was in a self-induced psychosis, which I have been in before. I don't have any recollection. … I would never, ever make a threat. I would never threaten to destroy a facility where my father is on life support. I believe that I was in a state of psychosis at the time, and I would like your honour to take that into consideration with the report given by Dr. Gill saying I was agitated."
Stacey argued for a jail term of nine months, and thanked the judge for taking the time to consider "both sides of the story."
"Yes, I may have been found guilty, but I can tell you that I have tried very had in the last four years to stay out of trouble and I continue now to exercise, get my life back on track for my family. Keeping me in prison longer is probably going to put me back into the cycle of violence or whatever I had gotten off of until now."
Madden will return with his sentence on May 14.