A Crown prosecution argued Monday that Fort McPherson’s Johnny Simon, poses “substantial risk” and he should be designated as a long-term offender for his pattern of repeat offences causing serious harm.
In 2018, Simon was convicted of sexual assault for the third time after an incident involving a woman in Inuvik, but he’s yet to be sentenced for it.
In addition to the two prior sexual assaults, Simon’s record shows 11 previous convictions for offences including aggravated assault, theft, and breaking and entering.
In NWT Supreme Court, prosecutor Morgan Fane pointed to Simon’s “significant period of criminality and significant number of prior convictions” to demonstrate his high risk of re-offending.
Simon’s violent behaviour is attributed to substance abuse. Following an assessment by a forensic psychiatrist, Simon was diagnosed with substance-use disorder in addition to borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
While in custody for previous offences, Simon received treatment for propane inhalation and alcohol addiction that began in childhood.
Still, Fane said, in spite of the assistance for rehabilitation he has received in the past, Simon has repeatedly re-offended after being released from custody.
Having been sexually assaulted himself, the Crown acknowledged Simon as “a product of his trauma.”
“A great deal of fault lies with colonialism, residential schools, and the ’60s scoop,” Fane said, with mention of Simon’s mother having been stabbed to death and Simon’s own eight suicide attempts. “Still, clearly he’s criminally responsible for his actions.”
Fane recommended the shortest available sentence for long-term offenders, offering a two-and-a-half year imprisonment followed by eight years of supervision.
Fane said Simon told the forensic psychiatrist that he feels like a different person when he drinks, and that he’s not thinking about his victims while committing assault. Without addressing his alcoholism, “everything else falls by the wayside,” Fane told the court.
He argued that his proposed designation for Simon would allow him to participate in the treatment and programming he requires without interruption. Yet he acknowledged that certain programs within Canadian prisons have been reduced because of Covid, and that even the 30-month sentence he is proposing doesn’t guarantee Simon will get the programming required.
In previous treatments during detainment, Simon has shown progress and talked about “wanting to put his life back together,” the court heard, but he continued to fall back into criminal behaviours after his release from custody.
Fane said that in spite of the self-awareness he has demonstrated in treatment, Simon’s adulthood has been characterized by violent or sexually offences while intoxicated.
Simon’s lawyer, Kate Oja, was scheduled to make her final statements Tuesday morning before Justice Karen Shaner.