Man jailed on five-year-old charges of breaching probation

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 1, 2016

Kings County Provincial Court, Georgetown.

GEORGETOWN  - How do you rile the provincial chief judge?

Just ask for weekend jail time after you’ve spent five years refusing to co-operate with provincial probation services and ignoring significant restitution payments.

That’s what Melvin Gerard Murphy did and found little mercy at the hands of Chief Judge Nancy Orr who sentenced him to jail.

“You’ve had five years to make restitution and you’ve done nothing,’’ she said trying to contain her dismay at the accused.

Georgetown court was told that in a 2010 fraud case, the 43-year-old Murphy was put on probation and ordered to pay almost $4,000 in restitution to the victim.

But ever since then he’s been playing phone tag with probation services personnel who were chasing him down from P.E.I. to Slave Lake, NWT.

“He signed an agreement he would pay the restitution and then it became very difficult to maintain contact with him,’’ said crown prosecutor Nathan Beck, who noted the total amount now owed to the province, including other fines, has grown to over $8,000.

Court was told of numerous incidents when a probation officer would call Murphy and leave messages only to have a call returned days later and a message left after the employee had long gone home.

This kind of phone tag continued for four months and then stretched into years as Murphy would leave messages saying he would pay down on his restitution and then fail to show.

Beck said Murphy has a considerable record of prior convictions and handed the judge a 13-page dossier. The accused works in the fishery and has off-and-on employment in the west. Over the past five years he has paid a few hundred dollars in restitution.

He pleaded guilty and was defended by legal aid defence lawyer Yolande Murphy, who said the accused had only returned to the province and wasn’t aware of the outstanding warrants against him.

“Oh I’m sure he was (aware),’’ said Orr.

The defence lawyer, at the behest of the accused, asked the judge to consider jail time on weekends since her client had current employment painting a house.

The judge dismissed that suggestion and ordered the man to serve a total of 60 days in jail and pay immediate restitution of $3,600 to the original victim. The payable order nowmeans the victim can take civil action against the accused to garnishee wages, employment insurance and even income tax returns to recoup prior losses.