Just 21 years old, Colin James Drake is a chronic alcoholic who’s accumulated 27 convictions for breaching court orders.
In the eyes of the Crown, Drake is a public nuisance who deserves longer periods of incarceration.
Another view is the one offered by Drake’s defence counsel who said the First Nations man needs help, but is caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.
“Locking him up for longer and longer periods because he’s an alcoholic is not the answer,” said lawyer Dale Melville, on Monday in Campbell River provincial court.
Last November, following his 25th conviction for breach of a court order, the court acknowledged Drake’s addiction to alcohol. According to prosecutor David Fitzsimmons, the terms of Drake’s probation allowed him to drink within the confines of his home, but not in any public place.
Shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Campbell River RCMP were called to a downtown disturbance involving four males near JJ’s Pub. When officers arrived they found Drake intoxicated.
He was arrested for breach and taken to the RCMP detachment where he was combative and tried to fight with one of the officers.
Drake was released the next day, but the new year offered little change. At 3:18 p.m. on Jan. 11, police were called to Nunns Creek Park where a man was passed out, with his pants down, lying by the children’s playground.
It was Drake. He was “grossly intoxicated,” couldn’t even communicate, and shaking due to the cold.
Police used “pain stimulation” to rouse him.
Drake was taken by ambulance to Campbell River Hospital for treatment and then released back into police custody.
Since then he’s been “residing” at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria.
On Monday, Drake appeared by video in provincial court and pleaded guilty to his 26th and 27th convictions for breach. Fitzsimmons asked the judge to impose a 6-12 month jail sentence.
“Mr. Drake has received a great number of jail sentences (but they are) not a great deterrent…at a certain point, the community needs protection,” he said.
But Melville said that locking Drake up for extended periods won’t address his problems.
“This is setting up a 21-year-old aboriginal offender for more and longer jail sentences,” he said, adding that Drake has Grade 7 education and lives off of social assistances. “He should be given the opportunity to change.”
Melville added that Drake has been to some treatment programs, but has not been successful. Judge Thomas Dohm asked if Drake planned to enter residential treatment following his release from jail, but Melville didn’t know.
In the end, Judge Dohm sentenced Drake to serve 60 more days in jail, because he had little alternative.
“I like that as much as you do,” the judge said, adding that Drake should spend his incarceration trying to find a publicly-funded substance abuse treatment program.