Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Peace bond sought for violent ex-panhandler

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He's one of Winnipeg's most chronic offenders, well-known to veteran city police officers due to his decades-long criminal history of aggressive panhandling and explosions of violence sparked by a major alcohol problem.

Friday, Perry Dean Antoine was set to leave Stony Mountain prison after serving virtually every day of a six-year stint for cracking an innocent man's skull open on a Portage Avenue sidewalk, leaving him in a child-like state and bedridden in hospital.

Murray Aklwenzie had only calmly asked Antoine to stop pestering a frightened woman.

Today, the question is: At 52 years old, mostly confined to a wheelchair and with a newly found faith in God to guide him, has Antoine finally changed his ways or will he leave more victims in his wake?

Provincial justice officials are taking a profoundly cautious, wait-and-see approach before offering any answers.

That's evident by their recent push to place the former teen boxer on a lengthy peace bond to allow probation officers dealing specifically with very high-risk cases to watch over him and keep him on track -- and the public out of danger.

But to confront the serious questions raised about what Antoine's future holds, one can't avoid grappling with the vastness of his deeply troubled past. A four-page-long criminal record replete with violent acts, scores of trips to the city's drunk tank and a well-documented fiery temper his last three decades. Since 1979, he's been sentenced by the courts 41 times.

Antoine's history -- and the risk police and prosecutors believe he poses to the public --is fleshed out in great detail in psychological and parole reports tabled at a bail hearing this week. Antoine agreed to abide by several conditions as he decides whether to fight the peace bond.

The reports paint a portrait of a man always ready to scrap -- even if it's sparked only by hurtful words hurled at him.

In early 2010, when Antoine was pressing for a shot at early release, federal prison psychologist Dr. R.J. Howes wrote "it would do no harm" if Antoine came to realize sometimes it's his behaviour -- includingpublic urination and spitting on people --which invites people's derision.

"This is, after all, a man who has been banned from a welfare office... because of his violent conduct, and his aggressiveness has frightened and even victimized people in bus shelters and stores and parks and even those using a soup kitchen," Howes wrote.

"Mr. Antoine is not just an embarrassing, unpleasant nuisance; rather ,he is someone who is dangerous in that he has clearly demonstrated his anger is chronic and more often that not unrestrained," Howes stated. The fact he referred to himself as a "drunk" at the time is simply just a recognition of the obvious and not insight on his part, Howes wrote.

The root of Antoine's chronic anger, Howes said, likely stems from witnessing his parents drunkenly fighting and his inability to step in and stop it. "It seems likely Mr. Antoine's adult life has been characterized by attempts to show that he is no longer the powerless child."

Apprehended and taken into foster care, Antoine suffered abuses which likely influenced his anger toward authority, Howes said.

A shot at statutory release failed after Antoine was rearrested in April 2011, accused of kicking a man just after a female relative allegedly stabbed him 16 times. A dispute arose as the three drank together, parole documents obtained by the Free Press said.

A further psych assessment done in prison in 2012 found Antoine was still contending with a "very serious" liquor addiction "of which he has yet to demonstrate adequate control."

His case returns to court in late November. Until then, Antoine is bound by conditions, including a nightly curfew.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 A19

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