Communitybased sentence for man with mental health issues

Having debated what to do with a man with both an acquired brain injury and mental health issues, a Regina judge has determined a community-based sentence is the best approach.But Regina Provincial Court Judge Doug Kovatch warned Jessie Ahenekew (also spelled Jesse Ahenakew) he faces the likelihood of eventual jail if he doesn’t get a handle on addictions issues that have served to land him in trouble with the law.The 38-year-old man returned to court on Tuesday, having previously pleaded guilty to offences that included assault, mischief and failures to appear in court. Given Ahenekew’s existing criminal record, which includes some violence, the Crown requested a nine-month jail sentence.But defence lawyer Tony Orlowski petitioned the court in July for a sentence that would allow his client to serve his time in the community — thereby ensuring he has access to needed programming.Kovatch had observed the Crown wasn’t out of line in requesting the sentence it did, but decided he wanted some additional information in the form of a pre-sentence report looking into Ahenekew’s problems and what options might exist for him.Orlowski’s colleague, Andrew Hitchcock, appeared with Ahenekew on Tuesday, noting the report observed that while Ahenekew has had trouble following a community treatment order in the past, he has also struggled with side effects from his medication.And Ahenekew, speaking for himself, told the court his ABI — which he has had for 13 years — has been “shifting again,” causing further problems.“It’s like a disease,” he explained. “It doesn’t stop growing.”Ahenekew expressed a desire to take addictions treatment, and Kovatch agreed that, in combination with mental health programming, is likely the best approach — as long as Ahenekew follows directions. If he doesn’t, the judge explained, there will be consequences, possibly in the form of a jail sentence.Kovatch imposed a four-month conditional sentence order to be followed by 12 months probation. Both orders include conditions intended to help Ahenekew with his addictions and mental health issues.The mischief and assault incidents for which Ahenekew was sentenced took place in October and March respectively.In the first incident, Ahenekew attended city police headquarters, where he claimed the police chief had made off with the bulk of his lotto winnings in 2011. Court heard Ahenekew had tried unsuccessfully to lay the complaint in the past and, as on those occasions, police didn’t take the complaint. Angry, Ahenekew kicked over and damaged a ticket dispensing machine in the lobby. He was arrested following a struggle.He was back in trouble in March, when he was confronted by a security officer in a Regina liquor store. Court heard the intoxicated Ahenekew threw a bottle over a clerk’s head, then punched and pushed the officer to the ground.hpolischuk@postmedia.comtwitter.com/LPHeatherP read more