CORNER BROOK — Sheriff’s officers forcibly removed Craig Skeard from the courtroom Thursday after the man became upset and started to get vocal about the sentence imposed on him.
Judge Catherine Allen-Westby sentenced the once prominent businessman to nine months in jail, less five months for time served, for a total of four months of custody in provincial court in Corner Brook Thursday.
Skeard, 50, was convicted last month of 11 charges including five criminal code offences for uttering threats, one count each of assault, mischief and breach of an undertaking and three highway traffic act offences for driving while disqualified, operating a motor vehicle without insurance and failure to notify the registrar of a transfer of vehicle ownership.
As Allen-Westby was about to recess court, Skeard, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, looked to his lawyer Jim Goudie and said the sentence was too much time.
As sherriff’s officers moved to escort Skeard out of the courtroom, he then directed his anger at the judge calling her a bitch. A few other comments were inaudible as officers attempted to quiet him. Skeard became combative as they reached to escort him and the two officers had to use force to get him out of the courtroom.
A scuffle ensued behind the closed door that was audible to those in the court.
An officer told Skeard to stop with the threats.
And Skeard could be heard yelling at the officers, telling them not to hit him and to let his arm go.
One officer was heard to respond by saying that they had to hold Skeard because he was “acting unpredictable,” and “no one hit you.”
From the noises it appeared Skeard was struggling to free himself from the officers’ hold and this prompted one of them to tell Skeard he had to do what they said and encouraged him to “work with us.”
After a bit they managed to get him to co-operate and he was taken to the holding area in the courthouse.
Before Allen-Westby handed down her sentence the former businessman was calm and even apologized for the things he did. He said he didn’t mean the threats that he had made. He also indicated his desire to relocate from the city if he did get out.
Allen-Westby’s sentence was in line with what Crown attorney Trina Simms suggested during a hearing on Wednesday.
A pre-sentence report indicated Skeard places blame for the things that have happened in his life on others and he also has a history of substance abuse. Hospital records show a pattern of him using alcohol and street drugs, stopping his bi-polar treatment and then relapsing.
In her decision, Allen-Westby said the charges against Skeard were serious and the uttering threats charges were made against law enforcement officers. She also took into consideration his lengthy criminal record.
Despite his mental health issues, she said Skeard’s criminal behaviour in the form of threats could not be tolerated.
Allen-Westby said Skeard needs to make an effort to change his life.
The judge also ordered Skeard serve a 12-month probationary period starting upon his release from custody. Conditions of that probation include that he must keep the peace and be of good behaviour, appear in court as required to do so, report to a probation officer within two days of his release and then as required by his supervisor. She left the addition of other conditions to the discretion of the probation supervisor. She also imposed an order that Skeard provide a sample of his DNA and a five-year firearms prohibition.