(THUNDER BAY, ONT) – Not appearing in courtroom 204 this afternoon is 25-year-old Ruben Meekis. Her Honour Helen Pierce, along with Crown Attorney Jane Ann McGill and defence lawyer Gil Labine.
Ruben Meekis did not appear for his sentencing today on an almost 7-year-old offence. He has a history of not appearing in court, and discussions ensue that debate whether to run his sentencing during his absence, which is a legal option. Meekis’ mother was in contact with defence lawyer Gil Labine, but when he was inquiring about why Meekis’ was not going to be in court, his mother apparently hung up the phone. Labine made at least 2 attempts to find out why Meekis’ could not make it to court and was told he has a head injury in which he has future medical appointments for. In documents obtained by the court, it shows that Meekis has no future medical appointments.
The situation surrounding the offence is that the victim was walking home from work, around 11:00 pm on a Saturday, when two males approached him and asked for a cigarette. Meekis already plead guilty at trial and is now being sentenced.
Meekis and his co-accused became heavily intoxicated and robbed the victim as he was walking home from work around 11:00 pm on Saturday, October 6th, 2012.
They punched and kicked the victim in the face, chest, and neck, while he was on the ground. The two attackers didn’t stop, even though the victim handed over their wallet.
The victim pulled out a small pocket knife and stabbed Meekis, who was on top of him, in the chest. Meekis and his co-accused continued the attack, and picked up their victim, dragging the victim down the street and indicated that they were going to the bank machine to take out money.
The victim managed to escape around this point and ran on foot to their home, which was luckily nearby.
The victim suffered a broken nose, extensive bleeding and swelling to his face from the attack. Both accused were apprehended by police a short time later.
Meekis’ co-accused had disposed of his matters a long time ago. He plead guilty at a very early stage of his court process. His co-accused had received 8-months of custody, followed by 1-year probation.
His co-accused had many mitigating factors, as well as showed remorse throughout the proceedings.
Meekis’ should not be entitled to the same sentence as his co-accused for the following reasons:
- Co-accused plead guilty at the earliest opportunity
- Meeki’s took the matter to trial
- The victim was required to testify at the preliminary hearing
- The victim had to travel from Alberta to be here for the trial
- Meekis’ indicates no remorse, and actually believes he’s a victim “I got stabbed”
- Eventually expressed remorse
- Meekis has outstanding breaches
- Meekis admits to consuming alcohol in contravention of his bail conditions
Meekis was kicked out of school for a combination of alcohol abuse, truancy and poor behaviour. His employment is limited and has had few notable work experience, few employable skills and/or training to speak of.
Meekis indicates that he consumes alcohol weekly, to the point of blacking out. He also admits to weekly marijuana use but doesn’t believe he has a drug or alcohol problem. The Crown acknowledges that alcohol was a factor in this offence and breaches of bail conditions.
Meekis became truant from school in Thunder Bay and began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, which often lead to him becoming totally intoxicated. Meekis spends most of his time idle in his home.
Meekis believes that alcohol consumption was the primary contributing factor to the offence. He had speculated that he had consumed too much alcohol that evening in question, as he blacked out and remembers few details of the event. Meekis has made comments which identified himself as a mutual victim and is not to be blamed for his level of intoxication.
He has been identified as being at an elevated risk of re-offending due to his alcohol use, and the fact he hasn’t sought any form of counselling, preventative measures, or rehabilitation programs.
He has acknowledged to consuming alcohol throughout and has no insight as to how he has arrived at the present situation before the courts, does not show much if any regard for the severity of his actions. and doesn’t seem to feel the need to obey the bail conditions he was placed under.
It appears it was Meekis over top of the victim, it was Meekis punching him in the face while the victim screamed for help, and it was Meekis who had made off with his wallet.
This act of violence has had a devastating effect on the victim and their family. The victim was gushing blood from their face, and suffered broken blood vessels in their eye, according to a victim impact statement. It is the Crown’s suggestion that Meekis serves 2 years minus 1 day in custody and 3 years probation with the following conditions:
- DNA submitted to the DNA database
- Keep the peace, and be of good behaviour
- Report to probation services within 5 days of release from custody
- No contact/communication with the victim, except in the form of an apology letter
- The apology letter must be approved and delivered through probation services
- Restitution order $165.35
- Attend and participate programs (Alcohol, anger, rehabilitation)
- No purchase/possession/consumption of alcohol or intoxicating drugs except by prescription
- A curfew of 11:00 pm to 7:00 am
- 10-year weapons ban
The Crown indicates that this is not a case where the accused’s behaviour has improved since the offence, and she points to the fact that Meekis is not present. Meekis has failed to take responsibility for his actions and has come in constant conflict with authorities.
Meekis was 18 years of age during this offence, and at that time was attending school, possibly in Thunder Bay. He had come to Thunder Bay from Deer Lake. Labine is unsure if Meekis was currently in school during the time of the offence, or whether or not Meekis was living or visiting Thunder Bay.
Meekis approached the victim for cigarettes initially, and could not handle the rejection during his severe intoxication which resulted in the altercation.
Labine notes that the few times he has had exposure to Meekis, he was sober, kind, happy and sensitive young man. The impression Meekis left on Labine was that he was a very naive, young aboriginal male who was immature but very friendly and accommodating. Labine believes Meekis lacks insight into the justice system, and the world outside Deer Lake.
At the time of this offence, Meekis was 18 with no criminal record, and it was one of his first times in Thunder Bay. Meekis was trying to cope with all the issues indigenous people have coming into our community and trying to assimilate.
The impact of residential schools and colonization on indigenous communities is well-documented, and although Labine agrees that the pre-sentence report does give some insight and background into the residential school impact on his family, Labine submits that it truly does not measure the impact that residential schools had on Meekis’ parents and himself. His parents don’t seem to have any insight into the impact that residential schools had on themselves, and may not realize the impact that the residential schools had on their children as a result of their experience. It is well documented that the residential school impact is intergenerational, and doesn’t stop at the generation that experienced it.
Meekis is 25 years of age today, around 7 years has passed since the offence. Labine admits he does not know what Meekis was like in 2012 and indicates that he has probably had a rough go since he has failed to pass instructions to his legal defence. Labine comments about how his parents enable him and make excuses for him not to show up to court. Labine believes that this is due to being born and raised in a remote isolated community.
Meekis is believed to not understand the law pertaining to self-defence, as he sees himself being stabbed as an assault. Meekis barely has a grade 12 education, so his insight into self-defence seems minimal. Meekis doesn’t understand that when someone is being attacked, they can defend themselves.
Labine suggests 1 year in custody, and 2 years of probation, he also agrees with the Crowns suggestions for Meeki’s probation conditions, although he would like an exception to the 10 years weapon ban to facilitate hunting for sustenance.
HER HONOURS DECISION
The accused has been deemed absent from his trial and has therefore been sentenced in absentia.
The agreed statement of facts was filed in this court, at which times the accused pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery which took place on October 26th, 2012.
“The victim was walking home from work one evening when he was accosted by the accused and his co-accused for cigarettes. When they were refused cigarettes, the victim was struck and beaten” Her Honour Pierce says. She continues to explain the victim’s injuries and the theft of the wallet.
The victim impact statements have shown that this was traumatic to the victim and his family. It has impacted his sense of security, along with his families.
The co-accused, and accused were heavily intoxicated during the offence. Substance abuse is a serious issue for Meekis, who is a First Nations man. It is clear that his community has suffered the intergenerational effects of residential schools.
Meekis is entitled to be sentenced as a first offender, due to the date of the offence, even though he has had run-ins with the law since.
Meekis failed to thrive in the urban environment, including school and employment. He has taken no steps to address the pressing issues of his alcohol and drug abuse, along with his anger issues.
Her honour sentences Meekis to 14 months in custody followed by 2 years probation on the following conditions:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour
- Report to probation within 5 days of release from custody, and thereafter as required
- No contact/communication except for a letter of apology to be sent through probation services
- Restitution of $165.35 within 4 months of his release
- Attend rehabilitation programs surrounding alcohol, drugs and anger management
- No alcohol or non-prescribed drugs
- A curfew of 11:00 pm to 7:00 am
- No weapons, except for sustenance hunting
- Submit DNA to the DNA database
- Victim surcharge to be paid within 1 year of his release
Court is now concluded, and a warrant for Meekis’ arrest is issued.