A Court of Queen's Bench judge pulled no punches Friday in sentencing an Indian Posse gang member, described in one pre-sentence report as "borderline retarded," to nine years for a jailhouse beating that left the victim in a vegetative state.
Justice Rick Saull said the courts had to send a message to gang members that long prison sentences will given to those convicted of violent offences on the street or in jail.
"There is a shocking escalation of gang violence in Manitoba," Saull said. "In my view, now is the time for some diversionary tactics."
Saull said the message of harsher sentences should spread quickly among gang members, especially those in jail. "The inmates have got a lot of time on their hands," he said.
He was presiding in the case of Clarence Scott, a 23-year-old Indian Posse member a jury convicted of aggravated assault in the December 2009 gang attack on Kent Wilson at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre. Scott was one of eight gang members that swarmed Wilson like a "pack of wolves," Saull said. Wilson suffered extensive head injuries and was left permanently physically and mentally disabled.
Scott was the last of the eight convicts in the case to be sentenced. His total sentence was nine years, less 38 months for time in custody since the attack. Five of the convicts were sentenced to 10-year terms, one got eight years and the other 12 years.
Court was told Scott was not involved in planning the attack, but jumped in when it started.
"To suggest he's low-risk to reoffend is just to fly in the face of reality," Saull said.
The attack happened outside the gym at Milner Ridge after a guard inadvertently hit a button that unlocked the room and allowed the eight to go after Wilson. The attack was recorded by a surveillance camera.
Saull said he sympathized with Scott in that the pre-sentence reports found him "functionally illiterate, cognitively deficient" and even "borderline retarded."
"Mr. Scott was the least equipped to step forward as a leader and motivator. None of them have been blessed with high intelligence."