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Man guilty for role in unprovoked jailhouse attack

Victim suffered a broken nose and jaw, an orbital bone fracture, as well as bruising and fractured ribs
The Sault Ste. Marie Court House is pictured on July 21, 2022.

A 28-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated assault for the part he played in a jailhouse attack on another inmate last year.

Michael Hogan-Denis was one of three prisoners involved in "a seemingly unprovoked attack" that occurred at the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre on April 10, a judge heard.

The trio "blindsided and assaulted" the man, who "was sitting at a table with his back to them," prosecutor Adrianna Mucciarelli said.

The victim was punched multiple times in the head and face and then kicked when he was on the ground.

ATRC officers intervened and provided medical assistance.

He underwent emergency surgery at the Sault Area Hospital, the assistant Crown attorney told Ontario Court Justice John Condon.

The man suffered a broken nose and jaw, an orbital bone fracture, as well as bruising and fractured ribs.

Defence lawyer Ken Walker said video evidence from the scene is blurry and it is difficult to see details of the men's faces.

Two men are seen entering the common area, picking up speed as they walk towards the table.

"It clearly looked like they had intent and an agenda," he said. The pair started hitting a person, landing numerous punches and kicks until the victim goes down.

Walker said the two men slowly backed away.

"A third person nonchalantly walks up to the individual on the floor "and "kicks him once in the abdomen and once in the rear end," the defence told Condon.

"My client accepts that he's the third man."

The Crown indicated she agrees with that.

Walker said his client is accepting responsibility for the aggravated assault.

There was a realistic triable issue on whether Hogan-Denis was part of it or committed a common assault, the defence said.

He had nothing to do with the main injuries to the victim"s head.

The lawyers jointly recommended that Hogan-Denis be sentenced to 15 months jail, less credit for the time he has spent in pre-sentence custody.

The accused has a record for non-violent and drug offences, and this is his first conviction for violence, Walker said.

"At the time he wasn't taking medication" for his attention-deficit disorder.

While in custody, Hogan-Denis has taken a number of courses for substance abuse, anger management, understanding feelings and managing stress.

"He has used his time to the best he can where he is," Walker told the court.

The joint position stems from three pre-trials, and takes into account the guilty plea  Mucciarelli said.

"The facts are extremely aggravating," she said. "The victim suffered traumatic and serious injures."

Hogan-Denis, who is in custody at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, appeared in the Sault Ste. Marie courtroom via a video link.

"I do regret what I did. That's all," he replied when Condon asked if he wanted to say anything to the court.

When he imposed the 15-month sentence, the judge noted the kick to the victim's abdomen caused the broken ribs.

The first two assailants had set upon the sitting victim from behind and brought him to the ground.

Hogan-Denis "adds icing to the cake" by "kicking this absolutely defenceless man," Condon said.

Pointing to the accused's record, the judge said "there probably hasn't been a time since 2017 that you were not connected with the justice system."

He suggested the 28-year-old's life needs to go in a different direction.

"You have literally wasted the last six years of your life," he said, adding the rehabilitation efforts Hogan-Denis has recently made are not a waste.

With credit he received for his pre-sentence custody, the accused faces a further 24 days behind bars.

He will be on probation for 18 months with conditions that include no contact or communication with the victim.

Condon also prohibited him from possessing weapons for 10 years.

Hogan-Denis must also provide a DNA sample for the national registry.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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