74 year old remains stuck in jail

Raymond Hureau has been in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre since May. The prosecutor doesn't want him there. His lawyer doesn't want him there.

Raymond Hureau has been in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre since May.

The prosecutor doesn’t want him there.

His lawyer doesn’t want him there.

If the 74-year-old had pleaded guilty to the minor charges he’s facing, he wouldn’t be there.

But he’s stuck. He’s been found to have a mental illness that makes him unfit to stand trial. So instead of a trial, he gets a jail cell.

In June, Yukon territorial court judge Heino Lilles, in the first ruling of its kind, found that Hureau was unfit to stand trial if he represented himself, but fit as long as he had a lawyer.

This week a Yukon Supreme Court judge overturned the lower court’s ruling. A person is either fit or unfit, Justice Thomas Heeney said, concluding that Lilles overstepped his authority when he created a third option.

So now Hureau has been ruled unfit. His case has been sent to the Yukon Review Board, where a decision for his future will be made by a panel that includes doctors.

It could take as many as 45 days for that to happen. Unless something changes, that means more time in jail.

Hureau was charged with one count of mischief back in May and with disturbing a service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

A strict Catholic, court documents describe Hureau as someone with “long-held rigid and strong views on a number of issues related to his Catholic religious faith. He is pro-life and has particular concerns about abortion and gay marriage.”

In court this week, prosecutor Eric Marcoux said Lilles’s earlier decision put the Crown in a difficult position.

Hureau refused his original lawyer, and without one, Lilles’s order would technically consider him unfit. But if he is unfit, how can he get a new lawyer, or even apply to legal aid?

Hureau was asking the court to give him until October to find a lawyer and go to trial on the charges.

Waiting until October would just add to a difficult situation, Marcoux said.

“We’re trying to get him out of custody.”

Hureau is being held at the jail because it is legally designated a hospital in the Yukon.

His family says, according to court documents, that he “does not have a criminal bone in his body, but he’s just gotten out of touch with reality.”

The Criminal Code of Canada defines being “unfit to stand trial” as being unable, because of a mental disorder, to conduct a defence, or to instruct counsel to do so.

Lawyer Bob Dick was ordered by the court to represent Hureau at the hearing. Outside the court he said he’s going to do everything he can to help his client. That might include an application to just have Hureau released because of how long he has been behind bars.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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