Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prison trade teacher gets 44 months for bid to get drugs to inmates

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John Lightfoot is no stranger to prison, where he's spent many years preparing inmates for life on the outside by teaching them a trade.

Now the Winnipeg man is returning to familiar surroundings -- but he'll be the one on the wrong side of the bars.

Lightfoot, 59, was sentenced to 44 months in prison Friday after he was caught trying to smuggle drugs into Stony Mountain Institution.

Lightfoot sought a three-year sentence, but the Crown asked for six years. Lightfoot had been free on bail but was taken into custody following court Friday to begin serving his time. He has no prior criminal record.

He worked at Stony for more than a decade as a mason instructor for inmates, court was told. He was caught trying to bring ecstasy, crystal meth and prescription pills into the prison. The RCMP seized the drugs, along with cash and other items, from a vehicle parked outside.

At Lightfoot's sentencing hearing late last year, the Crown called expert evidence on the prevalence of prison drug-smuggling and the impact it has on inmates, many struggling with addictions.

"A corrupted employee has potential to do far more damage than anybody else," Crown attorney Jasmine Zurbriggen said.

She told court it's likely Lightfoot had done this before and it would have thwarted efforts to rehabilitate drug-addicted prisoners.

"He was running a calculated and tested operation," she said. No other arrests were made in this case.

Defence lawyer John Corona told court his client was desperate for money to pay extensive gambling debts. Lightfoot claims a mystery message was left on his desk asking him if he wanted to make some quick cash. It told him to park his vehicle outside a Transcona-area restaurant, where several packages were put inside, he said.

"At the time this happened, he was in a bad place mentally," Corona said.

Lightfoot denies knowing what was in the shipment, a claim the Crown and judge questioned. Lightfoot "chickened out," his lawyer claims, and decided not to bring the packages into his workplace before he was caught.

"I want to apologize to everyone for what I've done," a tearful Lightfoot told provincial court Judge Carena Roller during the initial sentencing submissions.

www.mikeoncrime.com

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2014 0

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