Michael Nehass is back in custody — this time, in a police cell in British Columbia, awaiting a hearing for a peace bond application against him.
The 33-year-old Tahltan man, who spent years in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre before being transferred to a forensic psychiatric facility in Ontario in relation to a 2011 knifepoint assault in Watson Lake, was freed in September when prosecutor Eric Marcoux entered a Crown stay in his case, effectively ending all legal proceedings against Nehass.
The move came as Nehass’ lawyer, Toronto-based Anik Morrow, was about to argue her application for a judicial stay, which would have allowed her to present evidence that Nehass’ Charter rights had been violated. The case raised issues about the treatment of First Nations inmates, inmates with mental health issues and the use of solitary confinement at the WCC.
Following the Crown stay, Nehass was transferred from the Ontario facility to a psychiatric hospital in Kamloops, B.C. According to the Globe and Mail, staff noted a “significant sustained improvement since his admission” and he was discharged Oct. 2.
The British Columbia Provincial Court issued a warrant for Nehass’ arrest Oct. 19 following an application for a peace bond by the province’s prosecution service. Nehass made his first appearance in a Fort St. John courthouse Oct. 20 and is being held in a cell at the Fort St. John RCMP station.
A peace bond is essentially a promise for someone believed to be at risk of committing a crime to follow a set of rules given by the court. Nehass is not facing any criminal charges.
According to B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin, the application was based on an “informant’s declaration” that he had “reasonable grounds to fear” that Nehass “will commit a serious personal injury offence.” The application cited Nehass’ previous convictions of aggravated assault “and psychological/psychiatric assessments that indicate he is a moderate to high risk to re-offend violently” among other things for the fear, McLaughlin said in an email.
It’s unclear who the informant is and what circumstances led up to the peace bond application.
The docket for Nehass’ most recent court appearance, on Oct. 30, listed the location of offence as Fort Nelson, B.C. McLaughlin could not confirm when or where Nehass was taken into custody, but the Globe and Mail reported that he was arrested in Lower Post, B.C.
Nehass’ next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 3 at 9:30 a.m., during which the court will determine the conditions of his release.
The Globe and Mail reported that the Fort St. John Crown’s office is asking for 22 bail conditions to be placed on Nehass, including keeping a daily curfew, taking all prescribed medications, and regularly checking in with police and bail supervisors.
Morrow did not return multiple requests for comment for this story.
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com