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  • Cleaning out the notebook

    04/17/2014 8:29 AM

    Confession time: I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.

    I suspect (hope???) many of you have clicked on this page, expecting (hoping???) to see something new, only to be disappointed that it’s the same old post from ages ago. Meanwhile, my partner-in-crime, James Turner, is putting me to shame by dazzling you on an almost daily basis with his insight from the justice beat, including THIS incredible piece earlier this week.

    Well, folks, that’s about to change. I’m determined to start putting the "time" back in Mikeoncrime, effective now!

    So let’s get things rolling today with some legal odds and ends that are filling up space in my notebook, and my head.


    Plenty of courthouse reaction to this week’s launch of the "Cameras in court" pilot project, which went off without a hitch on Wednesday. Senior justice officials were apparently thrilled at the numbers, which included more than 2,000 unique viewers just on the Free Press live stream alone.

    I give my thoughts on the overall presentation, the reaction and where I think things are headed in a column published in Thursday’s paper, which you can view HERE. If for no other reason, read it to see how I incorporated a famous television sound effect into my lead paragraph!

    Not everyone around the Law Courts is smiling, however. I’m hearing from sources that there are more than a few Manitoba judges who are lukewarm to the idea, at best. But it’s clearly going ahead, whether they like it or not.

    Meanwhile, the best line of the week came from a local defence lawyer I chatted with briefly in the halls of the Law Courts Wednesday. He figures Manitoba justice may as well try to make some money of this concept and proposed selling advertising for the robes judges and lawyers wear in court.

    He was joking, of course. But it would be quite the spectacle if judicial attire started resembling that of European hockey sweaters such as THESE, wouldn’t it?


    A couple updates from this week on fairly high-profile cases in the news.

    Remember the strange tale of the Manitoba woman accused of a bizarre, extortion-scam that targeted a prolific NBA player, among many other U.S-based victims? (Previous story HERE)

    Well, Shelly Lynn Chartier made her latest court appearance on Wednesday in Easterville. Nothing of substance happened, and the case was adjourned until May 14. Chartier remains free on bail. Remember, the wheels of justice move verrrrrrry slowly, especially in a complicated, cross-border case such as this one.

    Meanwhile, the bizarre trial of a Manitoba RCMP officer accused of uttering death threats against a fellow Mountie was back on the docket Wednesday morning. Crown and defence lawyers made closing arguments. (Previous story HERE)

    As expected, defence lawyer Bruce Bonney says his client was just blowing off steam, didn’t really mean what he typed and shouldn’t be found guilty, especially since the so-called threats weren’t even sent to the alleged victim. The Crown, of course, takes a much different view and argued this meets the criteria of a threat under the Criminal Code.

    The judge in the case has reserved a verdict until later this spring, with no specific date set for announcement. It's a pretty unique set of facts, and I'm curious to see how it plays out. Stay tuned.


    Must say I’m personally thrilled for Cliff and Wilma Derksen, whose long-time vision of a "safe house" for victims of crime is finally coming to fruition.

    My colleague, Dan Lett, wrote extensively about it Thursday, which you can read HERE. Having spent nearly every working day down at the Law Courts since 1999, I can vouch for the fact that is a long-overdue resource.

    As many of you know, the Derksen’s hold a special place in my heart. I wrote about the awful abduction and murder of their 13-year-old daughter in my most-recent true crime book, "Journey For Justice: How Project Angel Cracked The Candace Derksen Case", which was published in 2011.

    Seemingly every time I chat with Cliff, Wilma and their extended family and network of friends, I come away more impressed than ever. They are truly incredible people, among the most courageous and stoic I’ve ever met. They’ve had to face down the worst society has to offer, yet continue to work tirelessly towards making this community a better place.

    And now their dream is about to become a reality.


    And speaking of books.

    I often get asked if/when I’m going to write another one.

    Well, I can finally provide an answer.

    Mike On Crime: True Tales Of Law & Disorder is set for release later this fall. Once again, it will be published by the fine folks at Great Plains Publications.

    This one will be a bit different from my previous five true crime books. Rather than focus on just one story, I’m putting together a collection of shorter pieces on some of the most notorious, memorable cases I’ve covered during a career that began in 1995.

    It’s been quite the trip down memory lane going through thousands of bylines over nearly 20 years, but I’ve come up with a list of a dozen cases which will be featured in the paperbook book.

    More details about the content, release date, signings, etc, will be available down the road.


    Got a question? News tip? Story idea? Email me direct at mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca. 

    And if you're not already doing so, don't forget to follow me at www.twitter.com/mikeoncrime 


  • Was "evil rapist" doomed by circumstances?

    06/13/2013 12:36 PM

    Grave. Serious. Vulgar. Horrific.

    Those are just a few of the terms used by a judge to describe a random attack that saw a troubled Winnipeg teen break into a Fort Richmond home, confront the young female resident and then brutally sexually assault her as she pleaded for mercy.

    It was, without a doubt, one of the more chilling crime cases I've covered in my 18 years.

    On Wednesday, Judge Ray Wyant decided an adult sentence was needed for the youth to reflect the brutality of the crime. He concluded provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act are not sufficient to properly condemn what happened and protect society from the accused.

    It was a remarkable sentencing process, one which isn't done yet. Lawyers will return to court later this year to make final submissions on their proposed length of what will now be a penitentiary sentence. The Crown wants a double-digit term, which may represent the longest sentence ever given to a Manitoba youth for a non-homicide.

    This sentencing actually began last fall and continued sporadically over the past nine months as Wyant requested more and more information and Crown and defence lawyers provided further reports and evidence.

    Much of it was designed to learn what made this young man tick.

    We learned plenty about him: how he lived, as Wyant put it, a "lifestyle of anti-social values and attitudes"; how he has admitted gang ties, severe alcohol and drug issues, lives with attention deficit disorder and, likely, fetal alcohol syndrome; how he went through a traumatic childhood which included being made a permanent CFS ward as a child and placed in foster care; and how he continues to raise hell even while behind bars.

    None of this, of course, is designed to make anyone forgive or forget the terrible crime he committed. It was savage and senseless, and he must be punished severely.

    But attempting to gain a better understanding of the root causes of his abhorrent behavior is important to finding a potential treatment plan that will, hopefully, reduce his risk to society for the eventual day when he is released from custody. 

    It is far too easy to simply say this young man is "pure evil" and think nothing more of it. I'd like to think everyone is born with a fighting chance in life, but many — either through their own actions, the actions of others or a combination of both — eventually find themselves down for the count.

    And so I share with you a very revealing email I've just received from a woman who knows this offender well — who had a front-row seat to his upbringing and shares some very alarming details about what she observed.

    The only editing done to her note is to remove the name of the accused, as that can't be made public until his adult sentence is formally imposed.



    "It's difficult to find the right adjectives to describe this brutal attack," says Judge Ray Wyant. What he should have said was "Its difficult to find the right adjectives to describe the way this child was brought into this world and raised"

    (The accused) lived across the street from me. I got to know him and sympathized with him as he has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He was in a foster home. In all the years he was there, not once did I ever see any of the foster family play ball, go for walks, or interact in any way with any of the children she had. When it came time for family gatherings, (the accused and three foster siblings) were sent out for respite. Boy, did they feel wanted or loved? Never. So lets ask the Judge, how in the hell is he supposed to feel? Humans destroyed him before he was born. There is no help for kids like him. You cannot possibly think that any program was going to help him. It would be like buying a bag of apples and finding one bad one in the bag and putting it on your counter and think its going to be OK, well news flash, it will just become more rotten. Its hopeless. He did make lots of money for the government though. Lots of useless programs employ lots of useless people who in turn pay taxes.

    Was it his fault? Nope, was it his parents fault? Nope. Was it gramma and grampas fault, possibly. They should have shot the people who took gramma and grampa away and sent them to residential schools. Yup, that’s where it all started. The natives were jailed if they tried to raise their kids other than the white man way. It was something the Indians knew nothing about and the way they were raising them was fine.

    After so many of them were murdered, raped, secluded, beaten, of course would you not turn to alcohol? They had their identities stolen, the same way my mother did. She was a lousy mother, but it was not till now that I understand why. Finding my relatives including my mothers brothers, they told me horror stories of what happened to my mom and my aunt in the residential schools not to mention what happened to them. They would sodomize the boys. Pretty sad eh? This is what the government ordered.

    Now we have to live with the consequences. (The accused) paid dearly for being born. As did his brothers and sisters who are all FAS. They will pay for what happened to their families. They say he showed no remorse, would you if this happened to your family? I would like to ask Wyant that question. I most certainly do not condone what (the accused) did in any way, my feelings go out to the lady. But with what the government did to (the accused's) family? Judge Wyant should know what goes around comes around and now the off spring of the residential school survivors, if you want to call them survivors, is here.

    Yes I had (the accused) in my home many times. Actually he was here that same year. Waiting for his foster mother to come home and let him in. I always told him he could wait at my house. He was always polite to me, he talked, little but we had conversations. My son felt sorry for him as well, and (the accused) would always visit with him and watch him when he was rebuilding a motor or whatever in the garage. Something no one ever did with him. He was an outcast in school, bullied, only the bad kids would hand out with him. That’s how he got into drugs.

    Mike, although I believe (the accused) would never be better, no one showed that kid love at all. He was a wage for the lady across the street. That’s all. Sad Eh? All the kids she had ended up in jail. (The foster mother) was pregnant at 13, kept the baby, then gave it up for adoption, and had another boy and kept him.

    These FAS children are doomed. There is no way to heal them. Its so unfortunate. The people who created his family situation should be hung. But I am guessing by now they died thinking they did the right thing with the residential schools. So now the government is paying dearly for their mistakes. They will be paying for many many years to come."


  • Judge Giesbrecht was one of the good ones

    05/23/2013 2:48 PM

    I always knew it was going to be a long day when I'd walk into a Winnipeg courtroom and see Linda Giesbrecht sitting behind the bench.

    This is not meant to be taken as a criticism. In fact, far from it. Spend enough time at the downtown Law Courts and you are often left with the same feeling you get in line at the deli counter.


    All too often it seems quantity, not quality, is the order of the day. And with massive dockets, it's hard to blame those who work in the system with trying to be as quick as possible. But it can often leave a bad taste in the mouths of victims, family members and yes, even the criminals, when such important, even life changing events feel rushed.

    Judge Giesbrecht was different. Thick docket be damned, she was going to take her sweet time. And that meant everyone sitting in her courtroom knew they were going to get a fair shake and have their voices be heard. It also meant getting a refresher on the Criminal Code, as she often read out long passages about the law to justify and explain her decisions.

    I'll never forget covering one of Giesbrecht's cases back in 2001. It was a terrible tragedy involving a man suffering from extreme fetal alcohol syndrome who beat his roommate to death in a fit of uncontrolled rage.

    Giesbrecht spent MONTHS with this file, remanding it numerous times as she kept asking Crown and defence lawyers for more detailed information and reports from various medial and social experts. She wanted to know as much as she could about the victim, the offender and what needed to be done to ensure he was both punished and treated for a condition that was imposed on him by his alcoholic mother.

    When Giesbrecht finally did impose a sentence - two years in jail followed by a unique three-year probation order - she still wasn't done.

    In a rare move, Giesbrecht moved beyond her regular sentencing duties and planted herself directly in the middle of the man's rehabilitation. She ordered him to appear before her on a continuing basis to discuss details of his probation to ensure he was on the right track.

    There were many ups and downs which followed, but Giesbrecht kept on top of the case in a way I've never seen a judge do.

    This was just one example, of course. But it perfectly illustrates how much care she put into her job. And it stuck with me throughout the years.

    I was sad to learn in 2010 that Judge Giesbrecht was retiring, as I knew Manitoba was losing one of the true "good ones."

    And I was stunned to learn this week that she had passed away suddenly, having been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of lymphoma just last month.

    Linda Giesbrecht was just 61. Her service is being held on Friday May 24 at 2 p.m. at the Winkler Sommerfeld Mennonite Church, 189-2nd Street. In lieu of  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Judge Giesbrecht's memory to CancerCare Manitoba, donate@cancercare.mb.ca or to Variety the Children's Charity, admin@varietymanitoba.com.



  • Harper sends wrong message with tweet about missing person tragedy

    05/14/2013 5:37 PM

    On Tuesday, an eight-day missing person mystery came to a tragic end in Ontario when police discovered the remains of Tim Bosma at an undisclosed location in Waterloo.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined a chorus of people offering condolences online when he posted the following on his official Twitter account (@PMHarper): "My thoughts and prayers go out to Tim Bosma’s family during this difficult time."

    Last Thursday, a seven-year missing person mystery came to a tragic end in Winnipeg when police discovered the remains of Myrna Letandre buried inside a Point Douglas rooming house.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to post any comments or condolences about the case on his official Twitter account.

    (Ironically, Harper had an up-close view of the local tragedy: He happened to be in Winnipeg on Friday for an announcement on cyberbullying, which is the same day RCMP held a big news conference confirming Letandre’s death. Winnipeg wasn’t entirely forgotten, however. Harper’s Tweets last week did include wishing a "happy birthday" to Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge).

    Look, this isn’t meant to be a political rant. Nor is it meant to be a comparison of two terrible tragedies. But anyone with a set of eyes can’t help but notice the optics on this.

    And to be frank, the optics stink.

    There is a long, troubling and well-documented history in this country of vulnerable First Nations people like Letandre who have vanished without a trace. Some have eventually turned up dead. Many others remain missing.

    And there an equally long, troubling and well-documented perception that these types of cases barely get on the radar of the public, let alone police and politicians. It’s why we just went through an extremely damning public inquiry into the Robert Pickton serial killer case in B.C. It’s why joint-task forces have been set up in Alberta and Manitoba to study cases like Letandre’s.

    And it’s why someone with Stephen Harper’s clout should be very, very careful about the message he sends when he offers a personal note of sympathy to the family of a white man in Ontario who meets an awful demise – yet remains silent when a native woman from Manitoba who has been missing for seven years turns up dead in equally tragic circumstances.


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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.


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