Mike on Crime

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  • You wonder why judges claim their hands are tied

    Here's a perfect example of why judges are often so limited in their ability to hand down significant sentences.

  • Thinking about Phoenix

    Rarely am I at a loss for words. But that's exactly the situation I've faced this week after covering the Phoenix Sinclair murder trial.
  • Small talk, big trouble

    Should provincial court Judge Ken Champagne have removed himself from presiding over a high-profile criminal case?In case you missed it, Champagne raised concerns earlier this month about some light-hearted small talk he had with the lawyer representing the accused, Brock Golden, during a recent social event.The two men crossed paths at a legal conference, just two days after Golden's sentencing hearing ended with Champagne reserving his decision.Golden, the son of long-time city councillor Al Golden, admitted he used the Internet to lure teenage girls to a city hotel room to have sex with and take nude photos. The Crown asked for a three-year prison sentence, while Golden is seeking a conditional penalty that allows him to remain free in the community.Champagne returned to court last week during an emergency hearing to decide whether he should stay on the case.The judge told court how he and Wolson made idle chit chat until talk turned to the sentencing hearing.According to Champagne, Wolson said he “wanted to share a story.” Wolson then described how one of his client’s many supporters in court less than 48 hours earlier had been retired provincial court Judge Sam Minuk, a long-time family friend of the Goldens.Wolson told Champagne that Minuk had wanted to submit a letter of support on behalf of Golden, and also address the court and make a verbal submission. Wolson said he had talked Minuk out of it, believing it would put Champagne in an "uncomfortable" position.“Then, in a joking manner, Mr. Wolson stated, ‘So you owe me one. You won’t issue a bench warrant for me if I’m stuck in Ottawa,” Champagne told court in recalling their conversation. (Wolson is headed east to serve as lead commission counsel for the federal probe into former prime minister Brian Mulroney's business and financial dealings with lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber)Champagne said he knew immediately that Wolson was joking and "doesn't believe for a second" there was any ulterior motive for it."I can assure all of you that remark has not influenced or impacted me in any way regarding this matter," said Champagne. Still, the judge said he's aware that there were hundreds of people at the conference -- including lawyers, judges and police officers -- and that he wanted to address the issue head-on."I am obliged to disclose these comments as there may have been a perceived, reasonable apprehension of bias," he said.Wolson, who is widely considered by his peers to be one of the most honourable and effective lawyers in Manitoba, was stunned."I'm quite taken aback because the last thing I'd ever do is influence a judge," he told court. "I'm shocked that would be a matter you would raise with us. The comments were not said for any purpose or advantage. I would never want to have a victory in the courts that isn't earned, on advocacy or evidence."Crown attorney Mick Makar said he had no concerns with the issue, saying Wolson has an "impeccable" reputation. He agreed with Wolson's suggestion that Champagne stay on the case and give his decision to avoid any further delays.Champagne took a few days to think it over, then returned to court Tuesday and decided he would stay on the case. No date has been set for Golden's sentencing decision.Here's my personal take on this. Then I want yours. Richard Wolson is a stand-up guy, as good as they come. I know a lot of members of the public believe defence lawyers have no morals, but that's unfair and inaccurate. They don't have to like the clients they represent - they just have to do a job, same as all of us. And Wolson is very good at his job, among the best. I'd hire him in a heartbeat if I ever needed good legal representation.Like Champagne, Makar and likely the rest of Manitoba's legal community, I don't believe Wolson had ulterior motives when he chatted up the judge. However, I do believe it was a mistake for Wolson to bring up the sentencing hearing in any way, shape or form. It was too fresh, and he knew Champagne hadn't yet made his decision.I applaud Champagne for bringing this matter into the public domain. I'm sure he could have just dealt with this privately, or not at all, and it would have just gone away. But Champagne recognized this was a sensitive issue and one that ought to be put on the record.I have known Champagne for many years, most of them as a Crown prosecutor, and believe he is truly honourable. I don't have a problem with him continuing to sit on the Golden case because I trust that he won't be influenced in any way by what's happened.If nothing else, at least this issue has shown the justice system can be an open and transparent one. And no doubt plenty of lawyers out there are re-evaluating what they might say the next time they cross paths with a judge at a cocktail party or convention.After all, it's a relatively small legal community out there and small talk is bound to happen. The trick is to avoid turning it into a big problem.What do you think? Should Champagne have recused himself, or is there no harm, no foul here? You can also vote in my latest website Jury Poll question by clicking HERE.Post your thoughts below.
  • Three cheers for common sense

    Finally, a "good news" story from a Canadian courtroom.Quebec Superior Court Judge Richard Mongeau has done the right thing this week and overturned a truly ludicrous lower court decision which would have seen a 18-year-old motorist stand trial in youth court for the death of a three-year-old girl -- even though he was legally an adult at the time of the incident.You read that right. An no, it doesn't make any sense.It was earlier this year that Quebec Court Judge Odette Perron came down with the bizarre ruling, which stemmed from an Oct. 31, 2007 incident that left Bianca Leduc dead.The motorist - who happened to be celebrating his 18th birthday that very day - is accused of driving on to the front lawn of a home daycare and running over the little girl while she was putting up Halloween decorations.He was charged with causing death by criminal negligence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.The charges filed by the Crown referred to the tragic incident as occurring "on or about" Oct. 31 - a frequent legal term used in court documents.Amazingly, Perron ruled that "on or about" could mean the day of Oct. 31, the day before or the day after.She then claimed she had no choice but to give the 18-year-old the benefit of the doubt and send his case to youth court - even though everyone knew the crash happened on Oct. 31.Is it any wonder the Canadian public have so little faith in the justice system?The Crown appealed the ruling and got the decision overturned in the higher court this week.The young man now faces a maximum jail term of 14 years if convicted. While there's no chance he gets anywhere close to the max, a real jail sentence is a strong possibility. As a youth, he'd likely be looking at probation.His name still can't be published because his lawyer has 30 days to decide whether to challenge the ruling before the Quebec Court of Appeal.If that happens, let's hope that the common sense displayed this week by Judge Mongeau is contagious.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • The inmates truly are running the asylum

    852998.jpg He may have injured his thumb - but a convicted killer has also given the finger to Canada's justice system.Muri Peace Chilton, who is serving a life sentence for raping, killing and burning a 15-year-old Ontario girl while he was on parole for a horrific sex attack in Manitoba, has somehow won a mind-boggling lawsuit against the federal government.Chilton was awarded $2,500 in damages because a prison official laughed at him after he cut his thumb.The heartless murderer described the injury as “the most painful experience of his life,” and called the laughter that followed “beyond callousness” and damaging because he “felt utterly humiliated.”Chilton was injured in February 2000 while in the woodworking shop at Warkworth Institution, an Ontario prison. His left thumb became caught between two pieces of metal while using a router. Chilton said he heard “sadistic laughter” from the jail employee, who then joked about his injury for months.For those of you keeping score at home, Federal Court Justice Leonard S. Mandamin is the person who ruled in Chilton's favour.Does this make any sense to anyone? I thought these kind of ridiculous judgments only happened south of the border. At least we can take some solace in the fact Chilton actually won't pocket a penny. He just so happens to owe the government exactly $2,500 in legal fees spent on other motions he'd filed with the court but which were dismissed. (He was initially seeking $100,000 in damages)The mother of his murder victim, Heather Corey, called the lawsuit absurd.“He’s ridiculous. We never got any money from the government at all,” Mary O’Reilly told the National Post this week. “That would be a better use of money.”And to think Chilton has the gall to call this the most painful experience of his life.How about the pain he caused to his victims, beginning with the young Winnipeg woman he picked up hitchiking in January 1977, then held captive in his car, tried to run over, forced to the ground, raped, strippedand choked into unconsciousness before leaving in an isolated, icy field?Chilton was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but was released after serving just nine.While still serving the rest of his sentence in the community, Chilton befriended O’Reilly and raped her 15-year-old daughter in the basement of their townhouse before smothering her to death, pouring gas on the body and setting it ablaze.Funny, none of this was mentioned in Chilton's lawsuit, in which he went into great detail about his "suffering" as a result of losing almost 80 per cent of his nail.“The self-respect of [Chilton] and inherent dignity of [Chilton] as a person suffered greatly due to the laughter,” he wrote in his claim, according to the National Post report.“[I] went to the filthy utility sink and ran cold water over it in an effort to stop the pain and bleeding,” he said.Aww. Poor guy.Chilton said he had to walk to the infirmary “without gauze on it as the first aid kit for the shop was in the office, an area which is unauthorized to inmates and is up a long flight of stairs.” His fingernail took months to grow back and it continued to hurt, particularly if he put pressure on it.He claims the incident robbed him of the “pleasant and useful feature of not only his left thumb but his left hand, as the thumb is an integral member of the hand and without it the hand is severely handicapped.”Has the world gone mad? Or is this just more proof the inmates are truly running the asylum?www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Police try to ketchup with culprit, relish the thought of making an arrest, but investigation doesn't cut the mustard

    Hot dogs cause bomb scare outside Phillies baseball stadium PHILADELPHIA — After a bomb scare at the Philadelphia Phillies’ ballpark, authorities pointed the finger at a fuzzy green suspect — The Phillie Phanatic.phanatic.jpg Hours before the Phillies-Atlanta Braves’ game last night, a film crew shot a commercial of the mascot shooting heavily wrapped hot dogs from a launcher.But someone inadvertently left three of the duct taped hot dogs outside the ballpark, sparking security fears. Stadium employees were evacuated and the bomb squad was called in.Only after the packages were blown up did authorities realize they’d just exploded some sausages.“We saw something that looked suspicious,” said Michael Stiles, Phillies senior vice-president, administration and operations. “We did the right thing. It turned out to be nothing. We could have gone over and picked it up and thrown it in the trash and been done with it. But if we had been wrong, somebody might have lost an arm.”After the detonation, the game went on as scheduled.untitled.bmp “I’d rather them blow up some hot dogs or some ketchup and mustard and relish than have it be a real bomb,” reliever Chad Durbin said. “Better safe than sorry.”
  • Close the loopholes before another child gets hurt

    The first jolt was finding out her 14-year-old daughter was having sex with a 34-year-old convicted felon who was being investigated for his role in a massive child pornography ring.The second was learning Manitoba's justice system would do nothing to help her break up the disturbing relationship.There's something seriously wrong with this picture.As we reported exclusively in the pages of the Free Press this week, a Winnipeg mother is furious that she was twice rejected in her attempts to get a court order that would prevent the man from coming anywhere near her daughter. (Click HERE for full story)It's hard to blame her after hearing her story.At the time of her first attempt this past March, the teen was refusing to listen to her mother and wouldn't stop seeing the guy.Short of chaining the girl to a bed, I'm not sure what more the mother could have done. She went to police, who told her the man was on their radar for kiddie porn and that she should go immediately to the courthouse to get a protection order.She did - armed with several letters she'd found which had been written by her daughter and a young friend and contained startling details about the relationship, including allegations the man had taken nude photos of the teen.Seems like a slam dunk to convince a magistrate, right?Wrong.Her application was dismissed on the grounds the mother had failed to prove her daughter was in "imminent danger." Since the girl was in a consenual relationship and Canada's age-of-consent at the time was an embarrasingly low 14, there was nothing illgeal about the love affair.And so it would continue.Months later, the mother finally convinced her daughter to get out. The teen was now expressing fear for her safety and felt the man would try and use the alleged nude pictures against her.They returned to court - and had the door slammed in their face again. They were basically given the same explanation - no imminent danger.Fortunately, police stepped in a short time later and arrested the man for posession of child pornography. The investigation is now ongoing into whether nude pictures of the teen do exist, which would constitute an offence under the Criminal Code.As we also reported Wednesday, they are also looking into a website the man is involved with that offers pictures of girls as young as seven dressed in skimpy clothes and in provocative clothing. The so-called "modeling" site is clearly intended for pedophiles, yet may not go far enough to be a crime as defined by Canadian law. (Click HERE for full story)See the trend here?Our justice system is filled with loopholes that serve only to protect the interests of perverts and predators and do little for children and their families.They need to be closed immediately.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Two sets of laws?

    Got an interesting email this week from reader JP, who begins with the following statement: "I don't know if this story is newsworthy but I would like to bring it to your attention."He then goes on to chronicle a very interesting legal challenge he launched - and lost - in provincial traffic court.Have a read of JP's story - and view the pictures he took and sent my way - and then let me know what you think about what he did and how the court ruled. Was he out of line? Or did he make a valid point?Here's what happened, in JP's own words.Copy of DSC02293.JPG "On May 2nd of this year, my vehicle was one of the many thousands clocked, using a mobile photo radar van, travelling at 79 km/h (below the regular speed limit of 80 km/h) on Bishop Grandin Blvd close to the Fort Garry bridge. However with the construction going on at the time, this was above the temporary speed limit of 60 km/h.Sure enough, I received a ticket for $195 in the mail a few weeks later, indicating that I was being charged with an offense under the highway traffic act section 95-1 (speeding). Fair enough I thought, until I took a walk to the scene of the crime. Enclosed are pictures taken indicating that the entire stretch of Bishop Grandin westbound from St. Mary's Rd. all the way to the Fort Garry bridge is in fact a "no stopping anytime" zone, precisely where the photo radar van was set up.DSC02299.JPG Upon learning this, I downloaded and read the entire Manitoba Highway Traffic Act to see if there are any instances when a vehicle used by a police force is legally allowed to ignore a no stopping sign. Sure enough, Section 106 provides clear direction. Such a vehicle can only park/stop in this area if they are responding to an emergency or in the actual act of pursuing a violator or suspected violator of the law. I'm sure these commissionaires are not "actively pursuing" violators of the law when they are setting up their cameras. Section 106 goes on to say that if a vehicle used by a police force does indeed exercise these priviledges, they must have a horn or siren operating, and must in all cases have due regard for the safety of all motorists on the road.DSC02301.JPG Bingo, I thought. Open and shut case. The commissionaire's photo evidence was taken in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act! I went down to 373 Broadway to plead not guilty, and got myself a court date which was today at 2 PM (September 18th). I presented my case, cross-examined the commissionaire who indicated there was no emergency, they were not actively pursuing a violator of the law, there was no horn or siren being operated. I added the fact that it was a safety hazard to have a vehicle parked in a no-stopping zone for hours on end on such a busy stretch of road.DSC02303.JPG Well imagine my surprise when the ruling came down that section 106 doesn't apply in this case! Apparently, according to this justice anyway, commissionaires are exempt from the Highway Traffic Act if they are in construction zones (I thought all vehicles were subject to the HTA)! Ruling: GUILTY. A token reduction in the fine to $100 to shut me up and make it not worth appealing to a higher court. To add insult to injury, the prosecuting attorney even made a closing argument that my case wasn't about a commissionaire's actions even if they were illegal. When was the last time you saw a commissionaire in a photo radar van getting a ticket?So there you have it, two sets of rules... one for the traffic enforcers and one for the rest of us. They can now break the law to catch you!"What do you make of this? Post your comments below.
  • So a woman walks into a bar...

    130380-47746.jpg There are likely dozens of different punchlines to the above noted phrase. But in the case of 22-year-old Tammy Kobylka, her trip to the neighbourhood pub was no laughing matter.It ended in death.Now justice officials in Alberta are going after the man who poured her drinks, saying the bartender at Skip Sports Bar committed manslaughter by allowing Kobylka to drink herself under the table and into an early grave. The bar's owner is also charged.It's a unique case. And one that will no doubt be watched by plenty of legal eyes across the country, not to mention those in the restaurant and hospitality business.It is also generating a fair bit of controversy, as you might expect. When I raised the issue during my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday night, we got a flood of callers who wanted to weigh in.Not surprisingly, opinions were divided.There was the "This is ridiculous, what happened to personal accountability" argument advanced by some. They made valid points, noting the bartender isn't accused of forcing the liquor into Kobylka's mouth. He's also not accused of serving a minor, as Kobylka was 22 at the time of her tragic death last October. Callers who fall into this camp seemed to suggest this is yet another example of trying to find someone, anyone, to blame whenever something goes wrong.The other callers fully supported the move, saying it's high time something was done about excessive drinking and over-serving that goes on in bars across the country. They agree with the position of police and the Crown, who believe Kobylka was too drunk to make clear-headed choices for herself and relied on the good judgment of others to keep her safe.An autopsy revealed Kobylka died of what the coroner termed “acute ethanol toxicity.” Tests showed her blood-alcohol level was five times over the legal limit for driving.A Canadian Press story described alcohol poisoning has occurring when a person drinks a lot very quickly, overwhelming the body’s ability to protect itself by passing out or vomiting. The body then literally shuts down, sometimes to the point where the drinker stops breathing and dies.Alberta Justice spokesman David Dear told reporters last week such charges are rare, but “the courts have made it plain that bar owners and staff can be liable for the consumption of patrons.”I'd like to know where you stand on this and, more importantly, why? It's an important issue that could have a far-reaching impact across the country.As well, you can click HERE to cast your vote on this one in my latest website jury poll.
  • Four down, two to go...

    Winnipeg police deserve a pat on the back this week for their efforts in safely arresting two fugitives who were part of a remarkable jailbreak from the Regina Correctional Centre on Aug. 24.160_captured_080910.jpg Preston Clarence Buffalocalf, 22 and Cody Dillon Keenatch, 19, were found at a downtown apartment block early Wednesday morning and taken into custody without further incident - no small feat considering who we're dealing with and the level of desperation likely involved.Police were apparently acting on a tip and, after conducting surveillance to confirm they were there, took no chances and called out members of their high-risk tactical unit. The canine unit and major crimes officers also played a pivotal role."I know that it sounds like there were a lot of resources there. But it was absolutely necessary to ensure that a safe and thorough search was conducted and that - if we in fact did locate these individuals - we could do so without violence, without injury and without any danger to citizens or police," Winnipeg police Const. Jacqueline Chaput told reporters on Wednesday.No complaints here.Two other escapees were previously nabbed in Regina - one just minutes after the jailbreak, the other a few days later.Now the focus is on finding the remaining two inmates, both of whom are considered potentially armed and dangerous. Hopefully a similar, safe ending is just around the corner.It wouldn't shock me if both men are also in Winnipeg at this time. And there is no doubt they, along with Buffalocalf and Keenatch, have had some help on the outside in terms of food, clothing, shelter and transportation.Let's hope those people can also be identified, charged and prosecuted.160_prison_WOLFEDanielRicha.jpg One of the remaining fugitives, Daniel Richard Wolfe, was a founder of the Indian Posse street gang. He has strong ties to both The Pas and Winnipeg. He was in custody awaiting trial on two murder charges.160_prison_AGECOUTAYRyanJoh.jpg The other is Ryan John Agecoutay, who is also an IP member with a violent history that includes leading a jailhouse riot.Police in Saskatchewan have also set up a tip line to gather information on what led up to the escape. Callers will not be required to identify themselves. The phone number is 1-866-999-4644 and will operate until Sept. 26.Anyone with information about Wolfe and/or Agecoutay should call their nearest police detachment immediately.
  • Is it a sin to be cynical?

    1528t.jpg It appears the general public is having a difficult time buying the bizarre story of Monica Gagnon.In case you missed reading it HERE, the 38-year-old Winnipeg mother of two ended up 2,500 kilometres from home this week after she claims to have been randomly kidnapped at gunpoint from a city 7-Eleven.Gagnon's story is right out of a Hollywood thriller.A mysterious stranger stares her down at a bar.She goes for a late-night drink to her local convenience store two days later.A car pulls up and four shadowy figures emerge.She recognizes one of them as the creep from the club.They jump in her car, put a gun to her and threaten her life if she doesn't start moving.She makes a dramatic escape more than 30-hours later and speeds to the nearest police station.I can two things with absolute certainty about this story, which appeared exclusively in the pages of the Free Press Thursday.1. It is getting all kinds of national attention, with calls coming in to me from all the major Canadian networks looking for additional details.2. The general public likely doesn't believe this really happened.You can't dispute the fact that somehow, Gagnon ended up vanishing from Winnipeg and turning up in Macon, Georgia. Or that her concerned husband had reported her missing.But it's the rest of the story that people are struggling with, as evident by the kinds of phone calls and emails I've received today. Heck, even Gagnon's own friends and family are stunned by what she claims happened. So, too, are the police.There are so many questions that need to be answered, including what was the motive for this and how did they get across the border?I've already heard comparisons being drawn to Dar Heatherington, the Alberta alderwoman who disappeared several years ago and turned up days later in the U.S. with an abduction story that proved to be false.Or the now infamous "Runaway Bride", who vanished just before her wedding and falsely claimed to have been kidnapped.I hate the fact that I am often cynical when I hear stories such as Gagnon's, but it's hard not to be when we've all been burned in the past.It's painfully obvious that SOMETHING happened to Gagnon. But the exact circumstances and details remain shrouded in mystery.Gagnon's good friend, Carrie Sarna, told me this week there is "no way" she would make up such a tale. And both her and Gagnon's husband insist the woman has a good life, that there was nothing to run away from.I want to believe. I really do. And I will feel bad for ever doubting Gagnon's claim if this does turn out to be 100 per cent legit.But until we know more, I'm going to reserve judgment.Stay tuned...
  • A mother's anguish

    jessie_foster.gif I really wish I never had to interview Glendene Grant again.That's not a knock against this wonderful British Columbia woman. But the fact we still talk on a semi-regular basis is a tragic indicator that her missing daughter, Jessie, has yet to be found.If you don't know the story, here it is in a nutshell.Jessie Foster was just 21 years old when she vanished in March 2006, just four months after moving to Las Vegas.The Kamloops resident was apparently chasing her dreams in sin city - but it appears she found a nightmare instead.Jessie got caught up in the sex trade and apparently began working for a local pimp, who has been less than forthcoming about what may have happened to her.Police have run into numerous brick walls and their investigation grows colder by the day.Glendene and her family still cling to the hope Jessie is alive. They believe she may have been forced into the dark, mysterious world of human trafficking.In the meantime, Glendene is doing everything she can to keep her daughter's name in the public domain. She has been interviewed by talk shows across North America - including mine on several occassions - and has even managed to get Jessie's story on shows like Montel Williams, Geraldo Rivera and most recently in the pages of the National Enquirer.She truly believes that every new person who hears about Jessie's case brings her that much closer to finding her beloved daughter.Glendene sent a powerful note out earlier this week which I wanted to share with you - with her permission, of course. It captures perfectly the range of emotions a parent goes through when their child is missing.Please take a few moments to read it, visit this WEBSITE that's been set up for Jessie, and spread the word about her case.And don't forget that on the second Sunday of every month (7-9 p.m. CST), my "Crime and Punishment" show on the Corus and Rawlco radio networks features a new missing persons case in conjunction with the Missing Children's Society of Canada.Here is Glendene's message to the public.As I sat here tonight, thinking about the hard times I have been having in the last week or so...maybe 2 years, but specifically lately. It seems as if I have been getting overwhelmed by it all...again...and I had a 'meltdown' last week. I decided to try to - in as few words as possible - get it out of me. This is what came out and, yes...I do feel somewhat better (that is, if I will ever get 'better' before I find my Jessie). Thank you all for reading & sharing. Sincerely, not just Jessie's mom, but also, Crystal's, Katie's & Jennee's mom - and of course, my baby doodles Maddie's and baby-on-the-way's grandma, Glendene.The more I think about it, the harder it is for me to understand HOW DO I KEEP GOING AT ALL WHEN I HAVE A MISSING DAUGHTER. HOW?I mean, I do know that I still have a husband, 3 other daughters, a granddaughter and a grandson on the way. And they all need me - I know that. And I know that I am not always there for them, even though I do try very hard and I do the best I can for what I have to live with inside my head (and the pain inside my heart that I keep mostly to myself because I know this type of grief would overwhelm most people, my family included...so they do not usually know how much I hurt and cry). It goes on day-after-day, hour-after-hour, minute-after-minute...and sadly, it is now even year-after-year.BUT, HOW DO I DO IT? I do not have a clue. I do get strength from a lot of places. From parents who have lost a child to death...how do you go to your own child's funeral? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I could never do that. EVER. I would simply loose it. But then, others like my very best friend for over 20 years (since June 1987), BRENDA ROSE did what I could never do. She went to her son's funeral. JAMES ROBERT ROSE lived a lifetime in 16 short years, from July 22, 1986 to August 5, 2002. James was hit by a driver at the bottom of the family's driveway, right in front of her eyes. Brenda saw the soul of her son leave his body and go about 3 feet above her head...RIGHT INTO HEAVEN.Ever since then, Brenda has said, "at least I know what happened...that he didn't suffer...that I have a place to visit him" - since then she has said many times, the worst thing possible would be to NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILD IS. Then, a few years later Jessie went missing...Brenda's worst fears came true to me. My worst fears came true to her. We comfort each other all the time.So, I guess the answer is, I go to bed at night, wake up in the morning, do what I can for my family and for Jessie's case, then I go to bed again that night...and so on, and so on, and so on.THAT IS HOW I MANAGE TO KEEP LIVING WITH A MISSING CHILD.I LOVE MY FAMILY SO MUCH. I HAVE SUCH GOOD FRIENDS. WE WOULD BE NO WHERE WITHOUT YOU ALL AND ALL OUR SUPPORTERS IN OUR SEARCH FOR MY BABY GIRL, JESSICA EDITH LOUISE FOSTER, born: May 27, 1984, missing: March 29, 2006 at age 21, age now: 24.Please help me find my Jessie.Glendene Grant.CONTACT INFO:Email (Jessie's Mom): jessiesmom@jessiefoster.caEmail (personal): glendene@telus.net
  • The "Devil" was due...and thankfully I made my deadline.

    n10454992826_8110.jpg After more late nights and "midnight oil" (in my case, Tim Hortons coffee) than I care to remember...After reading through a few thousand pages of documents and conducting a few dozen interviews...After a much-appreciated one-month extension on my deadline...And after writing anywhere and everywhere I could, including: The Toronto airport, the Calgary airport, an Edmonton hotel, the lobby of a Regina hotel, the lobby of a Minneapolis hotel, the lobby of a Thief River Falls hotel, a Winnipeg library, at work and at home....I put the final touches this past week on the manuscript for my latest true crime book and turned it over to my publisher."Devil Among Us: How Canada Failed To Stop A Pedophile" clocked in at a staggering 91,000 words - approximately 10,000 words longer than any of my previous three books - and spreads out over 28 chapters.This was quite surprising, given that at one point this past spring I honestly started to wonder whether I'd have enough material to even hit the 70,000 mark.Fortunately, persistence paid off, along with some good fortune on my part, and I ended up suffering from a case of information overload.I must say I'm very happy with the final result and consider this the most important story I've ever been able to tell. I hope you will agree.My publisher is currently targeting early November for the public launch of the book - expected to be at Chapters Polo Park in Winnipeg - but won't be able to nail down a specific date until it's off to the printers in a few weeks from now.After that will come a slew of book signings/readings in various Canadian locales, especially Manitoba and Saskatchewan. And hopefully Ontario as well.The book will be for sale in all major stores in Canada, including Chapters, Coles and McNally Robinson, for $11.95.If you prefer to get Devil Among Us delivered straight to your home, you can order it online through Amazon. In fact, they are already taking pre-orders at the following LINK.Once the launch and book tour dates have been set, I'll post the details here on my blog.For those of you on Facebook, I've been chronicling the various stages of my writing on a group that's been set up. You can read it and join the group by clicking HERE.
  • Not quite all the news that's fit to print...

    1446t.jpg Tired of reading every day about all the violence going on in Winnipeg?Well, consider this - what we report on daily is just the tiniest fraction of what is actually happening out there. The vast majority of crime stories never get reported - by police to the media, and/or by the media to the public.And you may be surprised to hear how much the police control what you read about.Officers who work in the public information office usually just pick a few incidents each day they consider newsworthy - obviously murders always make the grade, but after that it's pretty much a crapshoot what you'll get.My colleague, James Turner, and I regularly find what we would consider to be major crime stories while searching through the daily docket at the downtown Law Courts. They are cases that were never publicly released and only uncovered through our professional "sleuthing."A perfect example is this week's "scoop" about a Winnipeg man who got caught listening into his ex-girlfriend's private phone calls while stalking her. (Story is HERE) His 2005 arrest was never announced by police, likely because they seem to have a policy that, other than homicide cases, domestic-related incidents won't be released regardless of how unusual or serious they may be.Another was last week's bizarre trial of a Winnipeg man who stabbed his mistress inside a downtown office building, then left behind a series of disturbing writings outlining their fractured affair and his plans to kill her. The woman suffered critical injuries and was lucky to survive. It's a case unlike any other I've seen in my 13-plus years of covering crime in this city - and the first I (and the public) ever heard about it was at the trial. (Story HERE)I could go on and on listing similar examples that have happened in recent weeks, months and years.We run into similar hurdles when it comes to youth matters. James is covering youth crime like no other reporter in this city and routinely comes up with hidden gems while down at the Manitoba Youth Centre. Yet he often finds himself struggling to fill in the blanks because police are reluctant to comment.A perfect example occurred earlier this week, when James saw a young man who was charged with four counts of assault with a weapon, along with several other offences. James asked the police for some additional details - but was told they would not be able to accommodate him.Apparently they had concerns about potentially violating the Youth Criminal Justice Act, although we're still trying to figure out what they were.The media also gets criticized at times for not reporting enough details on stories we do publish, that the information is too vague.Sometimes it's the best we can do.Two good examples this week - Winnipeg police released information that they are currently conducting a missing persons investigation and have identified a scene of interest at a local dump. They won't tell us anything else - who the missing person is, whether its a male or female, the age, how long they've been gone, whether any arrests have been made, etc.Police also sent out a cryptically worded release on Wednesday morning telling the media they were currently investigating an incident that had happened that morning in the North End - but that they would be saying absolutely nothing more about it. We're still waiting to hear what exactly they're talking about - a murder? abduction? drive-by shooting? jaywalking arrest?Sometimes, "sources" bail us out and allow us to give you a bigger picture of what's happening.Such was the case this week when I learned - through a source - that a man had been shot and seriously wounded in Thompson. I also learned his identity, and the fact the attack was likely linked to an ongoing string of related incidents in the northern community. (Story is HERE)Fortunately, I was able to get other confirmation on the source information that left me confident enough to take the story to print - even though police initially hadn't said a word about any shooting, then would only confirm that one had happened but gave no other details including the victim's identity, number of shots or the extent of his injuries.None of this blog entry is meant to be taken as me "whining" - I'm perfectly content with being left to my own devices to dig, dig, dig for exclusive tales and details. In the journalism game, we always like to beat the competition, and the fact police release so little only feeds my personal hunger to find out what's happening on the streets. And judging by the multiple crime stories James and I pen every day, we're certainly not suffering from a shortage of things to write about.1503t.jpg However, this entry is meant to explain a little more about the the police/media "game" is played and why there's a very good chance you might not end up reading tomorrow about why there were six police cars and an ambulance rushing down your street last night.
  • You want justice? It's going to cost us

    The case of an HIV-positive African immigrant currently sitting in a Winnipeg jail cell awaiting sentencing raises an interesting judicial dilemma.The man - who can't be named under a court order - was convicted earlier this summer of exposing two former girlfriends to the potentially deadly virus by having unprotected sex without telling him about his medical status. (Read full story HERE)It's a shocking crime which cries out for stiff punishment.The man will automatically be deported from Canada based on his offence. Now the only question left to be decided is when he gets on the plane with a one-way ticket.The man has already spent 34 months behind bars while his case dragged through the courts. Of course, under the magical 2-for1 Canadian system, he will be given credit for 68 months served.The Crown believes the man's actions are deserving of an even further prison term and asked a judge this week for another 28 months, which would be an eight year sentence - at least on paper.The man's lawyer says he's already done enough time and should be sentenced to time in custody.For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, Canada will only deport a criminal once they have served their ENTIRE sentence.So, that means that if the Crown's wish is granted, this man will spent another two years, four months on Canadian soil - in custody, of course - before he's punted out of the country.If the defence gets their way, he leaves almost immediately.I've heard estimates that it costs Canadian taxpayers at least $80,000 per year to keep a prisoner locked up. By my math, that would mean it'll require nearly $200,000 in federal funding if the Crown's submission is accepted by the judge.Not to mention the nearly $240,000 we'd have already spent on this guy during the time he's already served.And if you consider the medical costs that were incurred by his victims - and thank God they didn't become HIV positive - the total would be much higher.So what's the return on this investment? What will this man give back to the country that took him in?A big, fat nothing.I realize that, normally, we want to see a criminal given as much punishment as possible. But it seems to me the smartest thing to do in this case would be to cut our losses as quickly as we can.Thoughts? Post 'em below. You can also click HERE to vote on this issue in my latest Jury Poll question.
  • The happiest place on Earth?!

    Admit it - you've had a long week.Maybe it's the hot weather that's got you a bit cranky. Maybe you're ticked that your buddy is on holidays while you're stuck in an office. Or maybe the kids are driving you bonkers at home as we enter the "dog days" of summer.Whatever the cause, you could probably use a laugh.Consider it done!One of my favourite things to do is scout out "dumb criminal" stories - the type of tales that remind us that no matter how crappy things might seem, there's at least one person out there having a worse day than you!It may be petty. It may be vain. But usually it's just flat-out funny!So, I present to you a few of my personal favourites. You can always read more under the "Lighter Side of the Law" section of my website by clicking HERE.Let's start off in Disneyland, where we are treated to the following gem.w081503A.jpgANAHEIM - Cinderella, Snow White, Tinkerbell and other fictional fixtures of modern-day childhood were handcuffed, frisked and loaded into police vans Thursday at the culmination of a labour protest that brought a touch of reality to the Happiest Place on Earth.The arrest of the 32 protesters, many of whom wore costumes representing famous Disney characters, came at the end of an hour-long march to Disneyland's gates from one of three Disney-owned hotels at the centre of a labour dispute.Those who were arrested sat in a circle on a busy intersection outside the park holding hands until they were placed in plastic handcuffs and led to two police vans while hundreds of hotel workers cheered and chanted.Next up is this beauty from Florida.JACKSONVILLE – The sauce for a spicy Italian sandwich was apparently a must have for one Florida man.The man, Reginald Peterson, called 911 twice after a sandwich shop left off the sauce.According to a police report, Peterson initially called the emergency number Thursday so that officers could have his subs made correctly.The second call was to complain that police officers weren’t arriving fast enough.Still on the topic of food, apparently this Chicago cop was suffering from some kind of caffeine-rage.CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer has been suspended for 15 months for demanding free coffee and baked goods from six different Starbucks.Officer Barbara Nevers, a 14-year veteran, has also been ordered to have counselling.The Police Board ruled in May that 55-year-old Nevers intimidated Starbucks employees by screaming at them and flashing her badge, handcuffs or gun when they wanted her to pay.And how about these bozos, caught "Orange-handed" in Minnesota.ST. PAUL – An orange trail of Cheetos led St. Paul, Minn. police to three teenagers suspected of burglarizing a vending machine.Officers were called to the Arlington Recreation Center on July 29, where they found a vending machine’s glass had been broken with a chair. Most of the candy and chips were missing, according to a criminal complaint.The officers followed a trail of snack debris from the rec centre, around the side of the building and to a nearby home. Inside, they found numerous vending-sized bags of Cheetos and other snacks. Finally, this Colorado creep at least deserves an "A" for effort.LONGMONT – Nice try.Authorities in Colorado say a man claiming to be a police detective asked an adult novelty shop to give him free X-rated videos, saying he wanted to make sure the performers weren’t underage. The man, who is on the run and has not yet been identified, attempted to get the videos on three separate occasions over a nine-day period last month.He was turned down each time and the store manager called police after the third try.Authorities said Monday that the man showed a badge and left a business card from the Longmont, Colo.. police “age verification unit.” This proves, once again, that there are indeed a million stories in the naked city.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • A man with a clear vision

    250206_mayerthorpe.jpg I met Rev. Don Schiemann for the first time in March 2007 and was immediately impressed by his candor and courage.His son, Peter, was one of four RCMP officers murdered in Mayerthorpe, Alta., in one of the country's deadliest attacks against police.Schiemann, a Lutheran pastor from Alberta, told me how he happened to be in Winnipeg on that tragic day in March 2005 to speak at the very same national church conference that brought him back to the city two years later.His return trip triggered many painful memories of the massacre."I don't like Winnipeg. And that's the only reason," a sombre Schiemann told me as we sat down for coffee in his Portage Avenue hotel."It was a nightmare."The images came as soon as he stepped off the plane.Schiemann saw the Winnipeg police counter at the airport and remembered his desperate requests of officers for information as he waited to board his flight home to Edmonton.He saw the airport's main entrance and recalled the grim-faced Manitoba RCMP officers who came to deliver the terrible news in person that his son hadn't made it.Schiemann would later learn the Mounties had raced to the airport from their Portage Avenue headquarters -- with full lights and sirens -- so they could get to him before he boarded his flight or happened to catch a news update from someone else.Schiemann had just started his board meeting when he got the cellular phone call that would change his life. It was a family member, telling him there'd been a shooting back home."They were worried Peter might have been involved," he told me.Schiemann.jpg Schiemann excused himself for the meeting and returned to his hotel room where he found the website of an Edmonton talk radio station to listen for updates. He also contacted Winnipeg RCMP, who provided great support upon informing him Peter was among the dead.One officer bought a last-minute ticket and boarded the Edmonton-bound flight with Schiemann to sit beside him, so the grieving father wouldn't have to be alone.As a man of God, Schiemann has relied strongly on his faith to get his family through the tragedy.But he candidlly admitted to me that there is a lingering anger which refuses to go away and threatens to take control whenever he is confronted with memories of Peter's death."I don't see myself as bitter or vindictive. But I've learned that most Canadians are like I was. -- totally naive about the justice system. I know there's an outrage over how this happened," said Schiemann.The murder of the four innocent men has given Schiemann a renewed sense of purpose in life that now has him taking direct aim at the federal government.He is refusing to sit by quietly and watch as other families of police officers experience the same kind of suffering he has.He recently started his own website -- www.visionforjustice.ca -- which includes a newsletter he has been producing on a regular basis since the fall of 2006.There are also related news stories and links and a banner ad calling for visitors to "support the campaign".Schiemann and his supporters are demanding tougher laws which could include more mandatory minimum sentences, a better ability to designate habitual cons as dangerous offenders and possibly the elimination of parole for police killers.But he admits stronger sentences are only part of the solution. He also wants to see greater emphasis placed on mandatory treatment and counselling of inmates to ensure they are actually being rehabilitated upon release.Schiemann just sent me his latest newsletter, which you can download by clicking on the following link. You can also register to receive future newsletters by e-mail.Vision for Justice July 2008.pdf
  • Grieving mom has a message - and you should hear it

    I stumbled across the obituary one morning last week and found myself instantly feeling a combination of sadness and curiousity.travis.jpg TRAVIS MATTHEW CATELLIER - In the early hours of the morning on Sunday, July 13, Travis went out to the graves of his brother Jesse and his dad Bert, in his pain and burdened heart, sat quietly and opened two beer cans, placing one for Jesse and one he must have drank himself. What thoughts and tears he had we can only guess. The last few years have been tough and in those early hours, the shadows of the night always play the strains of confusion and pain so much worse than when the sun comes up to chase the shadows away. Travis went to the farm and drove up to the hill where he and his brothers and cousins have laughed and played, had bonfires, skidooed and rode dirt bikes, a place echoing with good memories, a place where I think he could feel his connection to those he loved. He quietly sat in the soft tall grass, texted his love to his Kerry, to his friends and family, and then took his own life. We wish with all our hearts that he would have waited for the sun to shine brightly and chase enough of the shadows away to remember that he had a journey to take. But this was not to be.Wow.I needed to know more, especially regarding the mention of Travis' brother, Jesse. So I went back into the Free Press obituary archives and found the following:jesse.jpg JESSE ALBERT CATELLIER - Jesse Albert Catellier died tragically on Friday, February 4, 2005, at the age of 25. Jesse was born on August 19, 1979, in Lacombe, AB. He was raised and went to school in Alix and Lacombe. He was a very energetic and busy young boy and man always, was full of pranks and mischief and loved to laugh. He was very loyal and big-hearted to his friends and family, had a very rare talent for working with his hands. At the age of seven he built a complete set of stairs, all by himself, for his treehouse, and of recent days designed and built his own trusses for a shop addition he was working on. He was very proud of his baby daughter, Madeline, and of recent months was trying especially hard to change his lifestyle in order to create a better future for her, but he ran out of Mondays to start over. That was taken from him. Jesse has struggled with addiction for several years, and has sorrowfully lamented of late many times that it isn't about fun anymore..the meth and coke just steal your soul and obviously friends in this world can turn to enemies.Wow again.I began searching through newspaper archives and quickly found the story regarding Jesse's slaying.I noticed his mother, Ingrid Braak, had spoken out following the killer's second-degree murder sentencing. I wondered whether she might want to talk now, following another son's tragic death.Did she ever.What followed was an emotional, intense 30-minute telephone conversation with a very brave mother who made it crystal clear that she believes some good can come out of something so terrible.And a full-page story that will certainly go down in my own personal archive of important pieces I've been able to pen.Braak spoke candidly about the many issues which troubled her boys and her own struggles, as a mother/parent, to handle the situations as well as possible.She talked about the culture that seems to exist among young people, especially males, regarding drinking and drugging. She spoke about a lack of long-term vision that so many seem to have. And she spoke of the drug epidemic in big cities and small towns across the country.There was more, so much more. And that's why I was thrilled when Braak agreed to join me this past Sunday for an hour-long interview on my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show.We were also joined halfway through by Winnipegger Ian Rabb, a former meth addict who is seven years sober and now using his experience to try and help others.It was raw, powerful radio - in my opinion the best segment I've ever done - and I strongly encourage you to sit down and have a listen if you missed it.To do so, just click HERE and enter the following information. Date - Sun July 20. Time - 8 p.m. The interview begins around 8:07 p.m. - right after the news and weather break - and continues until close to 9.
  • Why are we printing the gory details?

    ONE 2.jpg Neither the content nor the tone of the e-mail surprised me. And I expect to get several more like it in the coming days."What a desperate way to sell newspapers! You should be ashamed of yourself ...eventually if not sooner. The graphic details are glaringly disturbing ...and so are you! Martin"Martin, of course, was referring to the ongoing coverage of one of the worst murders in Canadian history - the killing of 22-year-old Tim McLean on board a Greyhound Bus last week.He was taking me to task for Tuesday's online story, which discussed the Portage la Prairie court appearance of murder suspect Vincent Li.ONE.jpg The story - which you can read HERE - dealt with a number of issues including Li's bizarre behaviour in court, his refusal to get a lawyer and the ordering of a psychiatric report.It also contained graphic details of the crime Li is accused of committing, as stated in painstaking detail by Crown attorney Joyce Dalmyn.There was no publication ban on the court proceedings, which were witnessed by a gallery packed largely with members of the media and members of the community who, I suspect, were simply acting on their morbid curiosity by coming down to get a glance at Li.Martin, like a lot of other readers I suspect, is wondering why we see fit to print every sordid element of the case.Even a fellow Winnipeg Free Press worker e-mailed me with her concerns about our handling of the story, suggesting it could inspire copycat incidents.ONE 1.jpg There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly disturbing story. I don't feel that you need all of the gruesome details of the attack to be published. Out of consideration for the victim's family and friends, you may want to leave out some of the gory details. If there is a trial, the family will hear more than they want to there. Just knowing that they’ve lost a son is bad enough but to hear all of the details so soon after his death will be devastating.Sometimes we forget how many people our newspaper reaches and if you include too many gory details, there may be copy-cat murders of people who may not be mentally stable. For example, the beheading of the woman in Europe this past weekend. You may also traumatize some of your readers.These are all valid points. And this is not a decision that has been made lightly.Deputy editor Julie Carl wrote me an e-mail Tuesday, posing the very same types of questions and concerns. She wondered if we might not want to omit some of the more disturbing details for the sake of our readers.We agreed to discuss the issue with several other editors before reaching a conclusion.Here's what I wrote in support of going ahead with the full story:I agree the facts are very disturbing. But I think that considering there is a very good chance this man is going to be found unfit for trial, or perhaps not criminally responsible, its important we show as much as possible about why that may be. The facts of the case will likely be the prime reason for this.I think, provided the appropriate content warnings are placed on the story, and provided it is written straightforward and not in an exploitative manner (including the headlines), then it’s vital to inform the public about what happened here.And that includes describing what this guy allegedly did, as brutal as it is.I went on to suggest we place a paragraph or two in the story explaining our decision.After bouncing it around for a while, the team of editors came to the conclusion that it was indeed important to give the public all the information about this horrible case with the appropriate warnings and caveats in place.We also agreed that we wouldn't continue to rehash every single detail in future stories just for the sake of doing it.But considering the elements of the killing will likely play a pivotal role in deciding whether Vincent Li faces any kind of criminal sanctions - and that Canadians are likely to have a strong opinion on the outcome - we felt we'd be doing an injustice to readers by not giving them as much information as possible.In this case, it's the same information that was available to anyone who set foot in the courtroom Tuesday.We agreed to put the most disturbing information far down in the story, to keep out words such as "gruesome" and "horrific" and simply play it as straight as possible.Lest you think we don't use discretion at times, keep in mind the Free Press did not print transcripts or post audio of the recorded RCMP chatter that many other media outlets around the world picked up on over the weekend.I'll spare you the details for the sake of being a hypocrite, but suffice to say there were numerous revelations and comments on the tapes which would have been unsettling to many. We didn't feel they helped advance the story in any way and we didn't publish them.However, the allegations - as told by a Crown attorney in a public courtroom - are vital to the case at bar and will go a long way to determining the fate of the accused killer.I recognize that not everyone will see the reasoning behind this and will think we're just trying to be "sensational" for the sake of making a dime.I've learned a long time ago that no one story is worth damaging a reputation that is built on trust and honesty - from the people you interview to the people who read you.And that's why I felt obligated to try and explain a bit about the decision making process. I know many will still disagree, and that's their right. Hopefully others will see there is a method to the madness.Agree or disagree with Mike? Post your thoughts below.
  • What's with all the teen girl attitude?

    Three different girls. Three separate crimes. Three very similar cold and calloused responses.What happened to sugar and spice and everything nice?Last week, my colleague James Turner and I had the unfortunate task of bringing you several more stories of teen depravity from inside the walls of the Manitoba Youth Centre.After hearing the chilling facts of these cases, I can't help but wonder if they indicative of a much larger problem in society today.Have a read. And then discuss.*****CASE 1 - "He had to die sometime anyways."We've already talked a lot about Winnipeg's "laughing car thief", so I'll try and keep my comments to a minimum. But as many of you know, this 16-year-old girl made national headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that she mocked the death of a Winnipeg cab driver.The teen was one of seven occupants of a speeding, stolen SUV that smashed into and killed the innocent victim. In her interview with police, the girl smirked, twirled her hair and made comments like "It's no big deal" and "He had to die sometime anyway" to shocked investigators.Since then, we've watched the catch-and-release system in full affect as the teen got bail, was re-arrested, got sentenced, released, re-arrested, sentenced, released, re-arrested and sentenced once again last week.And released.CASE #2 - "They can go to Hell."Credit James Turner with the following tale of woe.A 12-year-old girl who pleaded guilty to setting a $200,000 fire that razed an East Kildonan home callously told investigators the home’s owners could “go to hell” when asked if she had any empathy for them.She also told correctional officers she would “do it again” if released.“These are chilling comments from a 12-year-old,” said Crown attorney Brent Davidson at the girl’s sentencing hearing.He said when questioned by police after her arrest on May 14, the girl showed no remorse or empathy and was sullen throughout the interview.In court, a social worker described the girl as “a risk to both herself and society.”She will remain locked up for at least another 12 days.Provincial court Judge Michel Chartier said he will consider a sentence that rehabilitates her and protects public safety.She’s considered such a high-risk to re-offend that after being granted bail a number of weeks ago, she remained locked up at the Manitoba Youth Centre because Child and Family Services had nowhere secure enough to place her.The home she pleaded guilty to torching was being built for a Russian family that had moved to Canada to escape the high cost of housing in that country.A social worker also raised serious concerns about the girl’s history of physically assaulting other kids and staff at school or CFS shelters. The worker also said there’s “no doubt” she’ll commit further crimes and set other fires.CASE #3 - "$%!@ the cops"While sitting at MYC awaiting another sentencing, I stumbled across the sad case of a 13-year-old girl who was seeking bail on a number of charges related to a string of ongoing car thefts and breaches of court orders.The most amazing piece of evidence came from Crown attorney Liz Pats, who told court how police conducted a curfew check on the girl following her most recent release on bail.Not surprisingly, police found the troubled teen had gone AWOL.However, likely nothing prepared them for what the girl's grandfather - her court-appointed custodian - had to say.When asked why the girl had left, grandpa explained that he'd tried to warn the girl that breaching her curfew was only going to land her in more trouble with the law."F--k the cops," the girl said before heading out into the night.She was arrested days later and brought back into custody, where she now remains after being denied bail last week.*****So here we have three girls - aged 12, 13 and 16 - snubbing their nose at the law, authority, even their own elders as they continue on their self-destructive paths in life.What to make of it?Is this a sign - as several callers to my "Crime and Punishment" radio show suggested Sunday - of the utter lack of respect being displayed these days by many young people?Is it proof, as others suggested, that our youth justice system is so weak that teen criminals simply treat it like the joke that it is?Is it a spinoff of pop culture, with salty-tongued bad girls being portrayed in some media as the best way to get respect?Or is it, as some justice officials have suggested, a new trend in society where young girls are trying more to be like the "bad boys" they love hanging around with? Pats, the prosecutor, says there is a rapid emergence in this city of a "girlfriend and groupie" culture, especially in the auto theft world.I'm not exactly sure where the blame should rest. But it's clear something has gone very very wrong.

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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