A two-on-one jailhouse fight — part of what was described in court as “an epidemic of violence” at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre — has earned a South Okanagan man nine additional months behind bars.
Christian Leggatt, 21, pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Wednesday to assault causing bodily harm for his part in a beating last year that left another inmate with broken bones and two puncture wounds to his face.(Read more: two air pistol shooting incidents)
On July 1, 2015, Leggatt was serving a three-month jail sentence at KRCC for assault and weapons convictions stemming from an incident in Penticton four months earlier where he got into an altercation and he shot an air pistol hitting a man. A second incident involved a verbal argument when Leggatt fired the air pistol in a threatening manner.
The court heard this week that Leggatt and another prisoner, Trent Swampy, were tasked with beating a third inmate, Jonathan Phillips.
Crown prosecutor Joel Gold said Leggatt and Swampy approached Phillips in their unit and began attacking him. Phillips was left with a broken nose and hand, as well as puncture wounds near one of his eyes.
No weapon was found, but Gold said the wounds were not caused by a fist.
“There was no provocation, there appears to have been a weapon and it was two-on-one,” he said.
Defence lawyer Don Campbell said Leggatt took part in the attack on Phillips, his friend, to protect himself from potential harm from others in the unit.
“He really wasn’t given much choice by the people on the unit,” Campbell said. “It was a situation where they said, ‘We’ve selected this person, he’s going to get beat up, you’re going to do it.’
“This is something he was directed to do. He’s a small person trying to survive in a toxic environment.”
Campbell said the assault is part of “an epidemic of violence” at KRCC.
“It’s significantly more than we’ve seen in past years,” he said. “It’s quite troubling and I suspect it’s quite troubling to the institution as well.”
Court heard Leggatt was disciplined internally by KRCC staff, ordered to spend 25 days in solitary confinement and another 55 days in 23-hour lockup.
He was released from KRCC in September and returned to Penticton. In February, he was charged in relation to the jailhouse beating and re-arrested.
Swampy pleaded guilty at an earlier date and was handed a six-month jail sentence. Given Leggatt’s record, Gold asked for nine months in jail while Campbell pitched a sentence of seven months time served.
“I’m really not a bad person,” Leggatt said in court.
“I’m trying to be a father to my baby right now and that’s my No. 1 goal. I feel like I’ve repaid my debt to society with time served and I should be released.”
Harrison sided with the Crown, ordering Leggatt to spend nine months in jail, followed by a term of probation.
He was also handed a 10-year firearms prohibition and ordered to surrender a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database.