Before Justice George Murphy took the bench in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook on Friday afternoon it was clear the matter before him was not going to go smoothly.
As Colin Wheeler sat in a room at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, connected to the Corner Brook courtroom by video conference, he made obscene and threatening comments.
He called out the word “rats” several times, Crown prosecutor Lori St. Croix’s name and made threats. He also made gnashing sounds with his teeth.
Wheeler was supposed to appear for his sentencing hearing on charges, including assault with a weapon, that stemmed from a disturbance at a home in Benoit’s Cove last October.
Wheeler continued to make comments as Murphy took the bench and the court clerk attempted to read the file number into record.
Murphy asked Wheeler if he was going to control himself and he replied: “I’m controlled.”
As Murphy attempted to speak to St. Croix, Wheeler once again spoke up and said “guilty.”
Murphy said he was not going to proceed with the sentencing hearing with the way Wheeler was acting and St. Croix asked to have the matter rescheduled.
At that point Wheeler asked the judge how a member of his family was doing.
As Murphy attempted to continue the appearance he indicated that the presentence report that he had requested had not been completed.
Wheeler gnashed his teeth again and repeated St. Croix’s name.
When Murphy asked if was going to behave himself, Wheeler agreed.
Murphy went on to say the report could not be completed because Wheeler may have been in hospital.
Wheeler said he didn’t know what the judge was talking about.
Wheeler said he was sentenced to four years in jail for a previous assault with a conviction and questioned why the judge just didn’t do the same. “And get it done and over with.”
Murphy tried to explain that’s not how it works and said he was adjourning the hearing and hoped Wheeler would co-operate with the preparation of the presentence report.
“I won’t,” said Wheeler.
A few minutes later Wheeler said he didn’t mean any disrespect with the comment about the judge’s family member and that he was just trying to get hit with a heftier sentence.
“I’ll take five years right now,” he said.
“I’m not sentencing you in the state that you’re in today. I’m looking for a new date to do this on and that’s what’s happening today,” Murphy told him before setting the hearing for Oct. 16. Wheeler indicated he wants to appear in person at that time.
Friday’s appearance lasted just over 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, Wheeler has racked up nine other charges since he’s been at the penitentiary and will go to trial on the majority of them in St. John’s in November.