Jail gaff angers judge

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 26/97) - Justice officials will be surveying RCMP detachments across the NWT to find out which have room for inmates serving weekend jail sentences after a Fort Liard man couldn't be accommodated in his home town.

The president of Fort Liard's Metis local is going to have to travel for three hours on Fridays to Fort Simpson to serve his jail time for a drunk-driving charge.

Ernie McLeod was handed a 60-day sentence for his fifth drunk-driving conviction after pleading guilty earlier this month in territorial court in Yellowknife.

Defence lawyer Kelly Payne asked Judge Michel Bourassa to allow McLeod, who is a business and family man, to serve his time on weekends, but the judge refused and sentenced him to straight time in Yellowknife.

McLeod then appealed the decision in Supreme Court. Justice Virginia Schuler granted the request on Feb. 11.

But the RCMP in Fort Liard later reported they could not accommodate a weekend prisoner, so McLeod was back before Schuler on Feb. 21.

An visibly annoyed Schuler said she didn't want to be overly critical of the lack of information at the time.

As a result, the Crown is going to collect information from all detachments and compile a list of which ones can look after prisoners on weekends.

Schuler ordered McLeod to report to the Fort Simpson jail at 5 p.m. on Fridays and not to be released until 8 a.m. Mondays, until his sentence is served.