Article by: Tracy McGlaughlin, Toronto Sun
Barrie – Sometimes watching our Canadian justice system unfold in the courts is like sitting in the Twilight Zone.
Last month, after years of haranguing in the courts, a judge finally decided to sentence Nick Bullock, now 20, as an adult for brutally murdering his young cousin. Case closed, right? Wrong. Although he was sentenced as an adult, Nick’s lawyer, paid by the taxpayers, is battling to keep Nick in a youth facility, so he can finish some high school courses and apply to university.
Well, not only that, it’s also because it might be too tough for him in an adult prison.
“What?” says a baffled, stillgrieving mother of Brayton Bullock, who was just 14 when he was slain. A mother who has put her life on hold so she could sit in court while this case has dragged on for four years.
“I don’t understand,” she says. “Why did the judge bother to sentence him as an adult? What did all of that mean?”
Throughout the trial the jury heard how Nick refused to go to school and instead walked around with a chip on his shoulder. Then one night, when he was 16, he lured his meek young cousin into a bush and stabbed him.
Stabbed him in the back. Then stabbed him 13 more times in the head, face and chest and left him there in Lackie’s Bush. For no reason really, other than that chip.
Street smart as he was, Nick made the mistake of strolling over to the Allandale Recreation Centre to wash up his bloodied hands and toss the knife in the garbage, leaving behind indisputable DNA.
It took three years for the case to get to trial.
It took two months at trial for a jury to find himguilty.
It took yet another nine months to complete a special hearing— a sort of trial in itself— to determine whether Nick should be sentenced as an adult.
Experts were called to testify, including staff from the youth detentions centres where Nick has been serving his time for the last three years. They told how well Nick is doing in school, graduating with high marks from high school at the Sprucedale Youth Detention Centre. Psychologists and Psychiatrists told how Nick seems to have no remorse for his crime and shows signs of a budding psychopath which is a character flaw — not an illness — and therefore cannot be treated. During the hearing, Crown attorney Ann Tierney worked tirelessly to convince the judge hemust be sentenced as an adult for the safety of the community, who would be in “grave” danger if he were out in a few years with a youth sentence.
“He has a character flaw that is frightening,” said Tierney. “His killing of Brayton speaks to a pattern in the future.”
But now, after millions in taxpayer dollars, and a judge’s final ruling to sentence him as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years (real adults wait 25 years to apply for parole), we learn there are many exceptions to the laws.
Nick has applied under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (sect. 76) to have yet another hearing to show that it is in his best interests to stay in the youth facility. This hearing is yet another trial in itself.
“He might not get to take university courses in a prison,” points out youth worker Nancy Russell, who testified at the hearing. She had no facts to back up her statements.
“Didn’t Karla Holmoka get to university while in an adult prison?” asks the Crown.
Oh, but he’s so young, says Russell.
“I think some of the landscape of an adult prison would be rather challenging for him.”
And besides, she adds, he might be targeted as a sex toy in there.
“Isn’t all of this just part of the consequences of committing a crime?” points out the Crown.
A callous remark? Or is Ann Tierney just a straight shooter who wants to keep dangerous people off the streets and have them do their time.
Too much for family
Cold blooded murderers belong in prisons, she says. Point blank. If you don’t like prisons, don’t kill people.
The hearing, which is delayed — again — to next month, becomes too much to bear for the family of the dead boy.
The mother, Tammy, dashes out of the court, along with other family members.
Outside in the hallway, they pace, in anger. Hot tears streaming down their cheeks.
This family has been through a nightmare.
Young Brayton was ripped out of their hearts and their lives.
They are not crying death penalty to the murderer. They don’t want to see him strung up and hanged.
But they need this case to end.
And they need it to end in a way that shows Brayton’s life mattered.
If law-abiding, but perhaps troubled kids in the outside world had as much care and coddling as Nick Bullock has received since he’s been incarcerated, we would have high-achievers flooding out of our schools.
And if Parliament could make up its mind with one unambiguous, straight-shooting law on when a youth is a youth and an adult is an adult, our courts would not be so bogged down. And the Bullock family might get a good night’s sleep
- Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
CCVF attended the National Victim’s week symposium
“Moving the Conversation Forward for Victims of Crime”
We support the initiatives of the Federal Ombudsman to create greater rights and services for all victims of crime in Canada
April 21 – 27, 2013. National Victims week awareness campaign
We All Have a Role.
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