Friday, January 22, 2010

Man gets 90 days in jail

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

A 24-year-old man who behaved outrageously toward a Kingston taxi driver after a night in Kingston's entertainment district more than a year ago has been sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Kushwinder S. Brar spent 16 days in pretrial custody after he threatened to "poke" the cabby with a small knife on his key-chain when ordered out of the car.

He has also been given 12 months of probation and ordered to abstain from alcohol during that time. He's prohibited from frequenting bars, taverns and other places where alcohol is dispensed, except licensed dining rooms between noon and 2 p.m. or 6 and 8 p.m., for the purpose of consuming meals.

Brar pleaded guilty in Kingston's Ontario Court of Justice in November to threatening an Amey's Taxi driver a year earlier and possession of a weapon -- his pocket knife -- for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. He also pleaded guilty to a subsequent violation last June of the alcohol abstention condition attached to his bail while the first two charges remained outstanding.

His sentencing was put over to this week to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

At the time of Brar's pleas, assistant Crown attorney Ross Drummond told the court that his victim, on the night of Nov. 16, 2008, had been working the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift when he picked up Brar and a male companion at Princess and Division streets.

The two passengers initially asked to be taken to Bayridge Drive and Front Road, but Drummond told Justice Rommel Masse they began to debate en route about a possible change in destination to Denny's restaurant.

The taxi driver kept driving while they were trying to work it out, which apparently enraged Brar, who, according to Drummond, grew increasingly belligerent with the cab driver.

Ultimately, he said, Brar's insults expanded to include the driver's mother, who he called a whore.

By then, Drummond said, the taxi was near Palace Road and the driver pulled over around Wright Crescent and ordered both men out of his cab.

Brar wasn't inclined to co-operate, however, and, according to the prosecutor, instead of getting out of the taxi, he pulled out a small pocket knife attached to his key chain and brandished it at the driver, asking: "You don't want to get poked, do you?"

Drummond said the cabby immediately raised his hands in a gesture of surrender but managed to also hit his panic button, which summoned fellow drivers.

Masse was told that Brar was arrested but subsequently released on bail.

Seven months later, on June 9, 2009, he was charged with violating the terms of his release.

According to Drummond, Kingston Police investigating a complaint about a possible impaired driver that night pulled over a small silver car traveling north on Princess Street. Brar was a passenger in the car and appeared to have been drinking, which a quick computer check revealed was a contravention of his bail conditions.

The prosecutor told Masse that Brar disclosed to police following that second arrest that he'd had five beer because he was scheduled to make a court appearance the following day to "figure out if I go to jail."

After hearing the facts of the matter, which Brar didn't dispute, Masse demanded to know why he'd treated the cab driver so shabbily.

Brar told him that the man had refused to pull his cab to the side of the road and wait while he and his friend settled on their destination, which led to an argument.

"So, you were willing to waste his time?" Masse snapped at him. "He's a busy man."

Brar's defence lawyer, John Ecclestone, requested a pre-sentence report, telling Masse that he expected it to support his contention that "this ugly incident is not who my client is, or, more importantly, who he's going to be."

By the time that assessment was completed and in the hands of the judge, however, Ecclestone had to admit the report was less positive than he'd hoped.

Masse observed that it was, in fact, "not favourable," and Crown attorney Bruce Griffith, who handled the sentencing, recommended 90 days of jail and probation for a year, based in part on its findings.

Still, Ecclestone told Masse that his client is basically, "a decent young man who's turned things around." He advised the judge, for example, that Brar assists his family by taking on tasks like the household cooking. His mother, according to the defence lawyer, has rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, health problems that forced her to retire and severely limit the scope of her activities.

Ecclestone further suggested that "alcohol was a key factor in this negative behaviour" and he told the Masse that Brar's father intends to relocate with his wife and son on the West Coast.

Both of Brar's older sisters are psychiatrists, he disclosed, and the family's plan is to have their son enroll in university in Seattle, where one of his sisters lives.

Masse, in passing sentence, told Brar simply: "You have to go to jail," and made a point of stressing to him, "your behaviour toward this man was completely unjustified."

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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