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One of Winnipeg's lost souls

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Jonathon Dorion is one of the lost souls in Winnipeg.

The homeless man has been arrested a staggering 328 times under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act. He’s racked up another 82 criminal convictions, mostly for petty nuisance offences and breaching court orders. He’s been sniffing solvents since he was seven-years-old.

And when he’s not in jail, his home is usually the cold interior of a U-Haul truck.

Dorion, 34, pleaded guilty Wednesday to his latest crimes which include violating a restraining order and sneaking into the McPhillips Street U-Haul rental compound to seek shelter yet again. He also admits to threatening to kill several of the police officers who came to arrest him.

Community prosecutor Susan Helenchilde said the system is at a loss to try and deal with Dorion, who frightens, intimidates, threatens and even chases staff at the U-Haul business that doubles as his home.

"He is there virtually every day that he’s not in custody," said Helenchilde, noting countless prior efforts by the courts to keep him away have failed miserably.

Even when they don’t see him directly, staff know when Dorion has been around. He frequently urinates, defecates and masturbates inside the trucks. He leaves them smelling strongly of solvents. And he regularly tries to siphon gasoline from them.

"He sucks the fumes directly into his mouth, which sometimes gets frozen to the fuel hose. He’s leaving behind blood and dead lip skin," said Helenchilde.

"It’s remarkable he’s even survived to this point."

Helenchilde said staff at the U-Haul complex have tried to help Dorion on numerous occasions by calling an ambulance for him. They also stopped locking their trucks for a period,, mainly because they were tired of having to repair the glass he had smashed to get inside.

Defence lawyer Amanda Sansregret said her client is a "tragic figure" who has clearly been left behind by society.

"Nothing the courts can do to Mr. Dorion will come close to the punishment he’s inflicted on himself," she said.

Dorion was sentenced to three more months in jail Wednesday, in addition to the time already spent in custody since his most recent arrest last fall. Sansregret said she wanted to keep her client behind bars until the spring as a means of keeping him safe until the weather warms up.

She hopes Dorion can turn his troubled life around - including finding some permanent housing - but admits it will be a challenge to keep him out of the criminal justice system.

And, evidently, U-Haul trucks.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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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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