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Problem drunks prompt judge to pause

In an effort to give a pair of highly troubled alcoholics a chance, Judge Ted Gouge stuck his foot in the so-called revolving door of justice.

The two First Nations men appeared before the provincial court judge on Monday in Campbell River, both facing separate charges for liquor-related offences. Jesse Mack, 42, lives with his uncle on reserve at Ahousat, north of Tofino, and was ordered to stay there by Judge Gouge at a previous court date.

“The problem is, every time you come to Campbell River, you get in trouble. Somone’s going to get hurt and it could be you,” the judge warned Mack.

But Mack doesn’t remember the judge making the order. He also has little memory of the events that landed him in police cells.

Last Thursday afternoon Mack was found passed out in the alley behind the downtown Lighthouse Shelter. When asked by a Mountie how much he’d had to drink, Mack smiled and replied, “too much.”

The next day he was back on the street, intoxicated again, and this time he was at the public library in the children’s book section.

It was bad enough that his eyes were glazed over and he had trouble walking, but Mack is also a convicted sex offender and his probation order forbids him from being in any public place where there are children.

To complicate matters, Mack has mental health issues, is schizophrenic and wasn’t taking his medication when he came to Campbell River. He came here, he said, to meet with his former spouse, but then “fell in with the wrong crowd,” said duty counsel lawyer Angie Penhall.

Crown prosecutor Tim Morgan asked the judge to impose a 60-day sentence after Mack pleaded guilty to several breach charges. Morgan said it would be ideal if Mack intends to deal with his problems, but in the meantime, a jail term would keep him off the street for a short period of time. Mack told the judge he wants to return to Ahousat and go before a tribal council who intend to send him to a isolated off-shore island.

Instead of imposing a sentence, Judge Gouge decided to hold off sentencing until April 8, when more can be found out about help available for Mack. He did the same thing earlier for Cameron Harry, 24, who’s been drinking since age 12. In the last six years, Harry has racked up six assault convictions, two for assault causing bodily harm, resisting arrest, pointing a firearm and 12 counts of breaching court orders.

He’s currently on a bail order that prevents him from consuming alcohol outside his residence. However, on Saturday night, Harry was found in the Cedar School playground with two unopened bottles of liquor and blood on his hands.

Police suspected Harry was involved in an assault and a “very uncooperative” bloodied victim was found nearby who said little. According to officers, Harry also appeared to be “rather intoxicated.”

As a result, he was charged with breaching his probation order, but not assault. Harry claimed the bloodied victim was his friend and he was simply crossing the street to the hospital in order to get his friend help.

At Monday’s bail hearing, Judge Gouge ordered Harry’s detention and that’s when Harry suddenly changed his plea to guilty.

He told the court he wants to enter residential treatment, but had no plan in place.

“What are we to do with (him)?” asked Morgan, who said the public deserves to be protected from Harry, especially when he’s drinking. “The best offender is a rehabilitated offender…no one in the Crown office wants warehouse people.”

Judge Gouge agreed and held off sentencing until April 8, giving Harry time to seek treatment and counselling.

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