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Man who disregarded court orders turned life around, says lawyer

Defence attorney says he has been able to find Indigenous counselling that has made him 'a real success story'
(Getty Images)

Lionel Taylor's flagrant disregard of court orders three years ago set him on a path to time behind bars.

He never reported to his probation officer, didn't do a single hour of community service, and failed to show up for court.

But on Monday, a judge heard the Blind River resident has made substantial changes to his life, and in the words of his lawyer is a different person than he was in 2019.

Taylor, who has struggled for some time, has been able to find Indigenous counselling that has made him "a real success story," Eric McCooeye said.

The defence and Crown jointly recommended that the 42-year-old man be sentenced to a 90-day conditional sentence, which will be served in the community, followed by probation, after he pleaded guilty to the three offences.

The proposed sentence is related to the work he has done, prosecutor Karen Pritchard said.

"It takes into account the COVID pandemic and what he's done staying out of trouble," she told Ontario Court Justice Dana Peterson.

The judge heard Taylor had been ordered to perform 120 hours of community service, and didn't complete any of them, never showed up for his appointments with his probation officer and skipped court on Sept. 23, 2019.

McCooeye said his client was allowed into an Indigenous healing circle, attended a land-based detox camp, which he described as a cleansing type of activity, for 10 days and then went to an Indigenous treatment centre in Blind River.

He also has been able to find stable housing, the defence said.

During his sentence, Taylor should have a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, the lawyers recommended.

Pritchard said he won't be compelled to complete all of the 120 hours of community service, but should do 60 hours during his sentence, and a further 30 hours while on probation.

When she imposed sentence, Peterson noted the vast majority of the convictions on Taylor's criminal record were for "failing to" offences, such as not reporting or attending court, and unlawfully being at large.

In 2018, he received an intermittent sentence that required him to do 120 hours of community service - a substantial amount - and not a single hour was done, she said.

However, Taylor may not have been in a position at that time to do that.

"It is very impressive the work he has done," Peterson said, noting he's undergone treatment and has addressed what might be the cause of his actions.

The judge said when she takes into account the hours it took for Taylor to complete treatment and the other programs, they amount to more than the community service he had been ordered to do.

She decided that Taylor must perform 30 hours of community service during his three-month sentence and a further 30 months during his 12-month probation.

While serving his conditional sentence he must follow his curfew, and can only leave home at night for medical emergencies or with the written permission of his sentence supervisor.

He must also provide a DNA sample for the national database. 

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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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