Mike on Crime
with Mike McIntyre
Here's a perfect example of why judges are often so limited in their ability to hand down significant sentences.
- HERE.Post your thoughts below.
- 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
- HERE to cast your vote on this one in my latest website jury poll.
- 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...
- 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): email@example.comEmail (personal): firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- HERE.Let's start off in Disneyland, where we are treated to the following gem.ANAHEIM - 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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. 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.
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.
Blogs that Mike McIntyre follows:
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