A P.E.I. man who escaped from the Provincial Correctional Centre with another inmate after they broke a window and climbed through it was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail.
Brandon Jeffrey Quinn, 22, appeared before Justice James Gormley in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown by video from the jail where he has been in custody awaiting sentencing.
Quinn was sentenced on one count of prison breach after he and another man managed to break a window in the co-accused’s cell.
They fled on foot and eventually went their separate ways before the police arrested them at different locations.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, the court heard submissions about Quinn’s background, including that he was the only survivor of a fire in Charlottetown that killed three of his friends in an abandoned building in 2014.
When he escaped from the jail, Quinn had 3.5 months left on his previous sentence and was in custody when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
While he was in custody, the jail implemented restrictions to help prevent its spread.
Quinn said he became frustrated because things like gym time and access to the chapel were taken away from the inmates and not replaced.
He told the court he had a buildup of emotions with no outlets and he felt “backed into a corner”.
Quinn said he was at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 because of lung damage from the fire. In addition, the jail’s quarantine unit was 10 feet away from where he was housed.
Until the stress, frustration, anger and fear hit all at once, he didn’t know how much of an impact his post-traumatic stress disorder from the fire had on him, Quinn said.
“I felt stuck again like when I almost lost my life and three of my friends did.”
Quinn apologized for his actions.
Crown attorney Nathan Beck told the court Quinn had a 35-page criminal record since 2016 and he had possibly spent more time in jail than out during that time.
That record included a conviction for mischief after he and another inmate climbed through a ceiling hatch that had a broken lock and made their beds to look like they were still in them.
At the time, they told police they were looking for materials to construct a still to make homebrew.
During the defence submissions on Tuesday, Quinn’s lawyer Conor Mullin told the court his client has supports in place, including a comprehensive release plan from the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.
In sentencing Quinn, Gormley said the accused needs to decide if he wants to spend the majority of his time in an institution.
Gormley also said he was struck by Quinn’s remarks.
“They were heartfelt and sincere.”
With the one-year sentence, Gormley gave Quinn credit of 119 days for time already served.
Quinn will be on probation for two years after his release.
His co-accused has yet to enter a plea on any charges related to the escape.