Man asks for extra credit for time served due to harsh conditions at city lockup
But judge only gives credit for time he spent in custody
DIANE CROCKER WEST COAST REPORTER diane.crocker @saltwire.com @Ws_dianecrocker
CORNER BROOK — Threatening to kill a police dog and police officers has landed a Corner Brook man 60 days in jail. However, Christopher Payne will only serve 15 days of that after Judge Wayne Gorman reduced his sentence by 45 days to reflect a Summers credit for the 30 days he spent in pre-sentence custody on charges of uttering threats and damage to property. Payne, 34, has mentalhealth and addictions issues. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced during an appearance in provincial court in Corner Brook on Nov. 7. While Gorman reduced his sentence for the pre-sentence custody, he did not grant a request from Payne for an additional sentence reduction based on the Duncan factor due to what he argued were the harsh conditions he has endured while on remand at the Corner Brook Detention Centre. In an affidavit, Payne asked for a 2.5-to-1 ratio, saying he hoped the court will see that the time he served on remand was a hard time, harder than normal. Payne said he spent 23 hours a day in his cell at the lockup and that inmates only get out of their cells for one hour a day for a combination of recreation/shower time. There are no windows in the cells and Payne said the only time he saw sunlight was during Suboxone treatment at a local pharmacy or if he attended court. He said the lights remain on 24 hours a day to allow camera access to ensure the safety of the inmates. This affected his sleep schedule and many days he felt the effects of sleep deprivation, he added. He said the “drunk tank” is in the same area and that also caused difficulty sleeping and exacerbated his mental-health issues and sleep deprivation. Payne also noted there is no visitation with family members or friends. He said the situation has been detrimental to his mental health and he is not coping with it. He described feeling like a trapped animal and said his temper has been increasingly worse and has affected his relationships with family members and loved ones. Payne was placed on remand at the centre on Sept. 25 after he ran away when police saw him walking on a city street. Payne was on a temporary release from a sentence he’d been serving and as a condition of that was supposed to be living in Stephenville. A K-9 dog tracked him to a residence in the city, where Payne was found inside a motor vehicle. When police opened the back door, he rolled out onto the street and appeared to be unconscious. An ambulance was called. After a few seconds, he appeared to have recovered and was arrested and handcuffed. He smashed the window of the police vehicle by banging the handcuffs against it. He then threatened to kill the dog and the officers. He continued to make threats while being driven to the police station. Payne told the court that he was “messed up” when he made the threats and that he had never threatened a police officer before. He also indicated that he apologized to the officers who he had threatened. Payne has an extensive criminal record with 39 prior convictions, including for theft, fraud, breach of court orders, break and entry, and robbery. In his written decision, Judge Wayne Gorman said in many ways Payne is the type of offender the court regularly deals with: a relatively young man with addiction issues who commits relatively minor offences. “Drug treatment is essential and if administered at an early stage of offending, it would constitute a solution of significant societal value,” he said. As for Payne’s description of the impact the remand conditions have had on him, Gorman said some of these have been negative, but the remand has promoted Payne’s prospects for rehabilitation. It allowed him to enroll in an addiction program and to make contact with someone who might help him find employment, and took him out of his cell and the correctional facility daily. After completion of his sentence, Payne will be subject to a 12-month probation order. Gorman said the probation order is necessary to provide Payne with access to any counselling that adult corrections can arrange.