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Judge says ‘time served’ appropriate sentence in case of assault against Barrington RCMP officers

Yarmouth Justice Centre. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Yarmouth Justice Centre. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
BARRINGTON, N.S. —

A provincial court judge agreed with the defence, ruling that ‘time served’ was the appropriate sentence for a Barrington-area resident who has been in custody since January for assaulting two RCMP officers.

In a June 3 sentencing hearing in provincial court in Yarmouth, Judge Alan Tufts stressed to Grigorios Laberakis that what transpired was a serious offence that could have easily gotten “way, way, way out of hand.”

But he also felt the time the man had spent in custody since his arrest was close enough to the length of a sentence a court would hand out in these types of circumstances. Therefore, the judge didn’t see the need to sentence him to more time.

The judge noted that Laberakis has suffered from mental health issues in the past, while the defence outlined ongoing conflicts between Laberakis and some neighbours described by the defence as “intimidation and harassment” towards his client.

The Crown, however, said “it went both ways.”

The judge noted that Laberakis, 59, has no criminal record, although his past does have a very serious footnote. In October 2001 Laberakis shot and killed two neighbours in Ontario. He was found to be not criminally responsible for those deaths due to mental disorder. In 2012, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered that Laberakis be granted an absolute discharge.

The deaths were never specifically mentioned in court, although it was noted during the June 3 sentencing that Laberakis had served four years in a psychiatric facility for “a very serious offence.” The judge said in his sentencing remarks that the past incident was “not really relevant to why we are here today.”

The current incident started, the Crown said, after the Barrington RCMP began an investigation following a report that an individual was driving on the Blanche Road on Jan. 9 when Laberakis confronted him and allegedly head butted him and spit at him. The RCMP had requested that Laberakis come to the detachment to discuss the matter but he had refused, so the RCMP went to his home on Jan. 10 to question him.

Laberakis was returning from a walk, during which he had been carrying a walking stick. He dropped the stick on the ground when told to do so, but as things escalated he retrieved the stick again, swinging it at two RCMP officers.

During the incident one RCMP member had drawn his pistol and another a taser, the court was told. Laberakis was tased three times, but due to the layers of winter clothing he was wearing it didn’t have any effect, Crown attorney Saara Wilson said. One RCMP member was struck in the forehead with the walking stick and required stitches. Another was injured when he was struck on the wrist and head. The wrist has still not fully healed.

Pepper spray was eventually used to subdue Laberakis.

During his time in custody a 30-day mental health assessment was ordered by the court that determined Laberakis was fit to stand trial had the matter gone in that direction. Instead there was a guilty plea to the charge of assaulting a police officer.

A showcause/bail hearing was also held while he was in custody but Laberakis was denied release.

As Judge Tufts listened to the lawyers outline the circumstances of the offences, he commented, “There’s more to this story than meets the eye.”

Defence lawyer Raymond Jacquard noted there has been difficulties between Laberakis and some neighbours after they learned about his past, which has caused the neighbours concern.

He said on the day the RCMP went to his residence Laberakis was feeling that he was being further persecuted are harassed. Jacquard told the court fireworks have been set off on Laberakis’s property and that people have shined lights into his home late at night. Trespassing on his property has also occurred, Jacquard said.

“Why is he swinging the stick?” Jacquard said. “He felt under siege.”

Jacquard told the judge it was only after he was tasered that Laberakis took an “offensive/defensive” stance. Jacquard also noted during Laberakis’ time in custody since January there have been no disciplinary issues.

The Crown had been seeking a jail sentence of one year, minus the credit for remand that counts for time-and-a-half in custody (that added up to around seven-and-a-half months).

In addition to time served Laberakis has been placed on 15 months of probation, that includes anger and mental health assessments if determined necessary.
Laberakis told the court he regrets what happened and said it wasn’t the right thing to do.

After hearing the facts Judge Tufts said it was still not clear to him if Laberakis was moving towards the RCMP officers or trying to get away from them. Regardless, he said assaulting a police officer is a serious offence.

“You’re going home today. I hope you’ve learned a lesson from all of this,” the judge said, telling Laberakis if he feels that people are harassing him or breaking the law, he should report that to the police and not deal with it himself.

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