Man finally gets to plead guilty, but will still require monitoring

The morning began with defence lawyer Barbara Reid asking the judge to remove her as counsel

By the end of the day, James Vautier was finally allowed to plead guilty and go free.

“Thank-you, your honour,” said the 34-year-old after proceedings against him wrapped up Monday afternoon in Campbell River provincial court.

Vautier, who’s had his struggles with mental illness, was polite and composed, but the day didn’t start out so well for the man who broke into his mother’s home and breached court conditions. The morning began with defence lawyer Barbara Reid asking the judge to remove her as counsel because she could not get clear instructions from Vautier.

The judge agreed and asked Vautier if he wanted another lawyer. Vautier said no and asked to plead guilty because he had already spent a total of 51 days behind bars. But Crown prosecutors were reluctant to accept the guilty pleas because Vautier may have been criminally not responsible due to mental disorder when the break-in occurred July 17, 2013.

They wanted Vautier to undergo a 30-day assessment at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam, but he didn’t want to go.

“Everybody knows there’s nothing wrong with me,” he told Judge Ron Lamperson. “They want to keep me locked up forever.”

But prosecutor Adrienne Venturini said there’s a history of incidents between Vautier and his mother and step-father dating back to December 2011. It’s started with Vautier breaking a glass window and threats to his step-father. Vautier also posted strange messages on his Facebook page about his parents being dead and $500,000 owned to him. His mother didn’t want him arrested, but did want him to get psychiatric care.

Then, last July, when his mom and stepdad were away, Vautier broke into their home which triggered an alarm which led to his arrest.

He was held in custody until Aug. 12, released and was due to have a trial in January. However, Vautier went to Victoria where he likely lived on the streets and in shelters until he was arrested again on March 6 for not reporting to his bail supervisor. He’s been in custody since then and has tried to plead guilty at past court appearances without success.

Finally, on Monday afternoon, after speaking with duty counsel lawyer James Hormoth, Vautier reaffirmed his desire to plead guilty and clearly explained why he broke into his mother’s home last July. He told the judge had been sleeping on the beach, knew the two were away and broke into the home so he could spend the night and collect some personal belongings.

Vautier added that he even weighed himself, noted that he had lost a few pounds, and was preparing to go to bed when police arrived and arrested him.

“He seems to have a pretty good memory of the events,” replied the judge who accepted guilty pleas on being unlawfully in a dwelling house and three counts of breaching bail conditions.

He was given time served, but placed on 18 months probation and is not allowed to go to his mother’s home or contact them without permission. He’s also on a Rogers Order stipulating that he must take psychiatric counselling or medication, as directed.