A 54-year-old man who was on the lam for two weeks last summer — after having been declared a dangerous offender by a Barrie judge a decade earlier — should be charged for breaching his long-term supervision order, a parole board panel has recommended.
A Canada-wide warrant was issued last June for Derek Powell, accused of breaching his long-term supervision order. He was apprehended in Cambridge 18 days later.
Powell had been placed on a 10-year, long-term supervision order after being designated a dangerous offender on July 11, 2012 by then-Justice Margaret Eberhard, first serving a sentence of 10 years, minus two years credit for pre-sentence custody.
He had been convicted of two counts each of assault with a weapon, forcible confinement, assaulting a peace officer, three counts of threatening to cause death or harm, one of mischief, and five counts of failing to comply with a probation order.
During the previous two decades, Powell had been in and out of jail on a variety of charges, including drunk driving, assault, threatening, forcible confinement, robbery, failing to comply with orders, fraud, possession, and obstructing and fleeing from police.
“Roots and positive community involvement have been impeded by a recurrent pattern of criminal activity, then avoiding arrest, then lengthy remands in detention, then short sentences or release without much institutional programming, then a repetition of the cycle upon re-entering the community without having obtained enhanced skills, enhanced insights or enhanced controls of his additions (actions) or behaviours from involvement in the criminal justice or corrections systems,” the judge wrote in the 2012 sentencing.
“The cycle is characterized by offences factually associated with his addiction and offences in the context of intimate partner relationships," the judge added.
When Powell addressed the court, he suggested he was being shortchanged compared to other offenders guilty of crimes much worse and that he did not deserve the stigma of dangerous offender, something he saw as a life sentence. He told the court that Barrie has more dangerous-offender findings than anywhere else.
“He is sad, and rightly so. The foreseeable years are grim. The past is grim. Life has not worked out happily for Mr. Powell,” the judge observed.
The parole board’s latest order had him return to his unnamed facility nightly and he was prohibited from entering York Region, Peel Region, the City of Toronto, and Simcoe County without the permission of his parole supervisor.
In both 2021 and 2022, he was convicted of breaching the order.
The original conviction which led to the dangerous offender designation dates back to Jan. 22, 2010, when a girlfriend picked him up after he served a jail term. He moved into her bedroom and soon started assaulting her.
During a phone call, the girlfriend's sister heard him threatening to cut her up and kill everyone. The sister contacted police, who found the woman “suffering from obvious injuries,” according to a summary in a decision issued March 31.
Police then learned he had used a frying pan and a broom in an earlier violent attack on the woman in which he also kicked her when she fell to the floor and threatened to throw her off a balcony if police were called.
When he was in the police holding area, he spat on a police officer, stuck him in the face and grabbed an officer’s notebook and ripped it up.
“Aggravating factors were noted to be that you are a violent recidivist, have frequently breached court orders, including probation orders, an escalation in violence, your disturbing and brutal index offending and foolish, uncontrolled behaviour toward police,” the parole board member wrote in the March 31 decision.
Powell was charged in October 2021 with breaching his long-term supervision order for using cocaine and sentenced two months later to 110 days, following credit for time served.
In June 2022, he failed to show up at the community residential facility, as per his order, resulting in officials issuing a Canada-wide warrant. When he was arrested 18 days later, he admitted to using cocaine. Last September, he was sentenced to an additional 126 days.
Victims indicated in statements in 2012, 2020 and 2022 that they had remained traumatized by the "significant physical, psychological and emotional harm ... experienced because of your offending,” the board member wrote.
Last December, Powell received a statutory release to a community correctional centre. A statutory release is when someone serving time in a federal correctional centre is automatically released from custody to serve the last third of their sentence in the community. In January, he resumed his long-term supervisory order.
Correctional Service of Canada "recommends a laying of information as your risk is no longer considered manageable in the community. During your brief period in the community, there were three issues related to substance abuse and you appear to struggle to acknowledge the severity of your substance abuse issues,” the panel wrote.
“Given your poor supervision history, recent behaviour in the community and continued disregard for your release conditions, your risk is no longer manageable in the community,” wrote the panel. “As the board is satisfied that no appropriate program of supervision can be established that would adequately protect society from the risk of your re-offending, and a breach has occurred, the board recommends that an information be laid charging you with an offence under Section 753.3 of the Criminal Code.”
“The board restricts your leave privileges. Given your deteriorating behaviour in the community, you will need to demonstrate stability for an extended period prior to permitting leave.”