Happy Valley standoff shooter’s jail sentence unlawful, Crown says
Prosecutors say man should not get time shaved off sentence for early guilty plea
Crown lawyers have challenged the amount of jail time imposed by a Nunavut judge against Happy Valley standoff shooter Jamie Mikijuk, saying it falls below the mandatory minimum sentence for the crimes he committed.
Nunavut Justice Paul Bychok sentenced Mikijuk, 28, to a four-year mandatory minimum sentence for recklessly discharging a firearm during a 41-hour standoff with RCMP officers in 2015, which resulted in a days-long lockdown of Iqaluit’s Happy Valley neighborhood.
But Bychok credited Mikijuk with total of 1,088 days worth of time already served against his sentence—at the enhanced rate of 1.5 days for Mikijuk’s 645 days in remand custody, amounting to 968 days, along with 120 extra days for pleading guilty to his offence and avoiding a trial.
Crown lawyer Ivan Nault told Justice Neil Sharkey at the Nunavut Court of Justice March 15, that Bychok might have overstepped his bounds by granting further credit in addition to Mikijuk’s credit for remand custody.
“It will come as no surprise, I’d imagine, that the Crown’s position is the sentence is not lawful,” Nault told the court.
Bychok explained the extra credit granted to Mikijuk was an acknowledgment of his guilty plea, according to a written copy of his Feb. 3 sentencing.
“Mr. Mikijuk has taken responsibility for his actions. He appeared to express sincere regret,” Bychok said.
“Our overloaded dockets do not have to accommodate a trial. Mr. Mikijuk’s sentence is reduced, therefore, by 120 days.”
Sharkey set a date in July for lawyers to plead their case, allowing time for Mikijuk to retain a lawyer.
Mikijuk, who was present in the courtroom and wearing a blue prison track suit, was silent during the brief proceeding.
At the time of his official sentencing on Feb. 3, Mikijuk had 372 days left to serve in prison, subtracting the days credited by Bychok, before undergoing two years of probation upon release.
Mikijuk is also banned from owning a firearm for 10 years.
Bychok acknowledged during his sentencing that Mikijuk had struggled with alcohol addiction from an early age, and that his standoff with the police was his first brush with the law.
Mikijuk was intoxicated at the time of the standoff, distraught and suicidal, Bychok said.
Bychok followed that with a blunt critique of Nunavut’s shortage of resources to treat addictions and to effectively rehabilitate its repeat offenders.
“Rehabilitation is always the result we seek, even though the criminal law and the territory give us few tools to work with,” he said in his decision.
“It is up to our governments, community leaders and elders who have the power and influence to act.”