Millroy: Bail or No Bail

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When I read that Travis Parsons, one of two men involved in a shooting on Beverley Street on May 29 that put a man in hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds, had been granted bail, I began arguing with myself again over whether bail should be granted in such a case.
On one hand I argue with myself that anyone facing such a serious charge as attempted murder should not be granted bail.

Yet on the other I realize there is the possibility that when two people are charged in a shooting, one might not have known that a shooting was going to occur.

That was the situation Yvan Vaillancourt, a New Brunswick man who took part in a robbery of a pool hall, faced after his accomplice shot and killed a man. Vaillancourt was convicted of second-degree murder.

The Supreme Court ruled the law under which he was convicted to be unconstitutional in his appeal in 1987. He was not responsible or liable for the death, the court said, because he could not have foreseen it.

Eric Mearow, 37, has been charged along with Parsons, 40, with attempted murder.
We will not know the circumstances surrounding the shooting on Beverley Street for at least a while, of course, because Justice of the Peace John McMahon has imposed a publication ban on all details.

But I think that since Parsons got bail, $50,000 with multiple conditions that included house arrest, we can assume fingers are not being pointed at him as the shooter.

The Crown opposed bail and I think it would certainly have the support of the community in doing that, so many in the general public believing too many criminals are getting off too easy, with nothing more than what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

Mearow remains in custody and will face what I believe to be an insurmountable hill to climb to get bail as he was involved in the slaying and dismembering of Wesley Hallam in January 2011.

In what can only be described as a travesty of justice, the charges against Mearow and co-accused Dylan Jocky and Ronald Mitchell were dropped from first-degree murder to manslaughter in a plea deal between the defence and Crown that was accepted by Superior Court Justice Ian McMillan.

The lowering of the charges to manslaughter and the agreed 10-year penitentiary term that accompanied it, plus the fact they were given credit for the five-and-a-half years they had been in custody, meant they could be back on the street in two years or less. And they were.
“All this,” I wrote at the time in Northern Hoot as The Sault Star was afraid to run my column outlining and criticizing the outrageous agreement, “was a slap in the face to the Hallam family, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police, who had conducted the lengthy and thorough investigation to bring the three to what should have been justice, and to the community at large.”

Then city police chief Bob Keetch told me at the time that in excess of 200 officers from the city police force and OPP had been committed in the investigation over time.

“There was a thorough, competent and expensive investigation conducted which ultimately resulted in the three individuals being identified and charged with first-degree murder,” he said.
As for Sandra Hallam, the victim’s mother speaking on behalf of the family, “We were devastated. How can the Crown just dismiss my son like that? It’s OK to kill my son? It’s OK to cut up my son into pieces?”

Hallam said she was visited by John Luczak. director of Crown operations for the north, and local Chief Crown Attorney Kelly Weeks, to break the news.

Two police officers were also there but on Hallam’s behalf.

“It was like I didn’t have a say,” Hallam said. “There was not a sorry or anything.”

Even though originally the only news of the plea bargain had been on the little-known Northern Hoot website, it resulted in an online petition with 2,200 names calling for a jury trial.

“They will not face a jury where all the sick dehumanizing details of their heinous crime will be shared,” a portion of the petition read.

“The ideals that will be brought forward with this decision will prove that the destruction of human life is worth only 10 years of incarceration. Public protection should be a much higher priority than the rights of these prisoners.”

I said at the time that it was obvious the police had done their job. I was disheartened that those in the Crown’s office hadn’t done theirs.

I hope we never have another one like that.

In regard to the shooting on Beverley Street, I gather that the person who was shot may have been shot by mistake, with the person who was the actual target being in the basement at the time.

The victim, who is now out of hospital, was hit by three of five bullets apparently fired, in the cheek, chest and buttocks.

If the bullet to the cheek had been an inch or two over, the charges could very well have been for murder rather than just the attempt.

From initial reports I thought it was a drive-by shooting but I gather video shows those responsible on the sidewalk outside the building.

Anyone convicted of second-degree murder is on parole for life, meaning that if an offence is committed by that person he or she could find themselves back in jail for violating parole, unlike manslaughter where once the sentence is served the person is free and clear.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Our system and corrupt government has failed us. He was already on house arrest for his prior drug bust and still went on with his life as of he wasnt on house arrest. How does someone like this get bail? If hes willing to do a shooting on house arrest what will it take for him to get real time? Maybe next time he will kill someone. This catch and release system is a joke. Since when does being a rat give you a get out of jail free card.

  2. No bail no I was high excuse let those 2rot in jail!! They figure they ha e all the rights in the world ! What about law abiding citizens rights? These clowns need to be made an example of end of story!!

  3. Doug you left out the part where he was charged with weapons offences a few weeks before this shooting so one would imagine that he was already on bail. So would someone explain that. It sounds like the judges and crown attorneys are afraid of these guys.

  4. Great article Mr Milroy! Please keep after the the “no brained “ judges who allow this travesty to continue.
    Our Police Service is doing an admirable job. The “politically appointed judges” are not.
    Shame on them.

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