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Man used axe to get into unit and bat in assault, court hears

Told police who stopped him that he 'had knives in case he had to stab someone'
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

Vincent Schiele was armed with an axe and a baseball bat when he showed up at Gore Street apartment last summer.

He used the axe to get into the unit and the bat to assault the man who resided there, a judge heard Tuesday.

Schiele was swinging the bat at the victim and struck the back of his head, inflicting serious injury, prosecutor Blair Hagan said.

The attack was captured on video. Police located and charged him four months later. 

The 48-year-old pleaded guilty to break and enter, assault with a weapon and  possession of weapons while prohibited in connection with the July 23 incident.

As well, he was convicted of numerous unrelated offences, including possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, breaching an order not to have weapons, possession of more than 30 grams of dried cannabis, failure to attend court and driving a vehicle while suspended.

On Sept. 26, police officers pulled over his vehicle in Batchewana First Nation, and learned he was a suspended driver.

As well, Schiele was on a release order not to possess weapons.

They found a large hunting knife in the front seat, another knife near the door and a blue-handled butterfly knife, which is a prohibited weapon, the Crown told Ontario Court Justice John Condon.

Schiele indicated he "had the knives in case he had to stab someone," Hagan said.

Federal prosecutor Ben Pritchard said the officers also discovered a bag with multiple jars containing marijuana in the trunk.

They weighed 68 grams, well over the 30 grams permitted by law, he said.

On Nov. 9, city police responded to a mischief complaint at a Circle K store on Third Line East.

Wnen officers reviewed the surveillance video, they saw Schiele get out of a vehicle.

It turned out that he was on house arrest and was to have no contact with the woman who was with him.

The Crown and defence lawyer Mark Palombi jointly recommended that Schiele be sentenced to a jail term of two years less a day, minus credit for the time he has spent in pre-sentence custody, followed by three years probation.

Hagan told the court Schiele has no criminal record, and racked up these charges over a period of time.

She called the break-in and assault the most serious offences, and an aggravating factor because he was not to possess weapons.

Schiele's guilty pleas saved the justice system time and money, at a time when the courts are facing backlogs, the assistant Crown attorney said.

Palombi said his client admits using meth, which leads to making poor decisions, and is taking responsibility for his actions.

Schiele, who is in his late forties, had no criminal record "but now he has one."

During the past two years "he has gone a bit of a spree," but since he has been in custody he has taken advantage of the limited services available at the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre.

Now that he is a sentenced prisoner more programs will be available for him, Palombi said.

When Condon imposed sentence, the judge told Schiele what he had learned about him is just "the tip of the iceberg," suggesting there is a lot more going on in his life that had brought him to court,

Schiele had such significant hostility towards the assault victim that he entered his residence with the axe and struck him repeatedly with the bat, Condon said.

What is "even more troubling," Schiele was driving around Batchewana with various knives "at the ready in case you needed to stab someone,"  and had multiple canisters of cannabis.

For a couple of years, Schiele has had "significant involvement" with substances and this "altered your clear thinking," the judge told him.

However, in addition to these aggravating factors, his guilty pleas showed remorse, which is mitigating.

The system was saved "days and days of trial," Condon said, adding he hoped the time Schiele has already spent in custody "helped you to re-think your life and I hope the balance will do that too."

With the enhanced credit he received for his pre-sentence custody, which included time spent in COVID lockdown, Schiele faces a further 491 days behind bars.

Once he is released, he will be probation for three years - the maximum permitted under the Criminal Code of Canada.

During this time, Schiele must participate in rehabilitative counselling and stay away from the assault victim.

Condon also imposed a 10-year weapons prohibition and ordered him to provide a DNA sample for the national database.

Schiele also received a $1,000 fine for the driving offence.