Sentencing for a Metchosin inmate charged with two counts of escape from lawful custody has been delayed for at least eight weeks.
James Lee Busch, 42, made a brief appearance by video from Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford, where he told judge Roger Cutler that he was pleading guilty to the charges.
Cutler asked Busch if he was ‘pleading voluntarily’ and without pressure, to which Busch, said he believed [Corrections Services Canada] wanted to make an example out of him.
Busch’s lawyer, Roberto Alberto, clarified that his client understood the guilty plea. Busch was expressing a concern that his sentence might be harsher in order to send a message to other inmates.
“You understand that whatever the penalty is going to be is entirely up to me, regardless of what anyone else might have told you?” Cutler asked.
“Yeah,” Busch responded.
Busch was serving time for second-degree murder and assault when he escaped William Head Institution with fellow inmate Zachary Armitage on the evening of July 7. The two were present for the prison’s 7 p.m. head count, and were discovered missing at 11 p.m.
The pair evaded authorities for two days before being re-captured in Esquimalt. The escaped inmates commented on the size of a dog near the Songhees Walkway on the evening of July 9, unknowingly alerting its owner – an off-duty RCMP officer – to their location. The officer called 911 and the two men were arrested by the Victoria Police Department.
On Monday, Alberto requested a Gladue report be prepared for his client – a process that will delay sentencing by at least eight weeks. A Gladue report is a pre-sentencing or bail hearing report for Indigenous offenders with recommendations to the court on appropriate sentencing. The report usually includes information on the individual’s family and background and is typically created by Gladue caseworkers at the request of a judge or lawyer.
“They are specifically done for people of Aboriginal descent, because the Supreme Court of Canada has said there needs to be consideration of many factors that Aboriginal people go through that the rest of society doesn’t go through,” Alberto said. “Over and over, criminal defence lawyers we are finding that the Gladue report is actually very important. The more information you can give the judge the better informed he or she is.”
Alberto said its unclear if a Gladue report has ever been created for Busch, who has been convicted and sentenced for multiple crimes, including aggravated sexual assault.
“It will probably be best to get a [report] because he has probably gone through a lot of other stuff while in jail,” Alberto said. “So I want to get that information and put it to the judge and go from there.”
Busch’s next court date Feb. 13 will determine if the Gladue report is completed and potentially include the setting of a new sentencing date.
Armitage also pleaded guilty to escape from lawful custody and in November was sentenced to an another year in prison, in addition to his current sentence.
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