A Penticton man has been banished from the city in a case a judge called “troubling” and “disturbing.”
Morgan Eugene Griffith, 37, appeared via video in a Penticton courtroom Friday for sentencing after being convicted of assault in October 2018.
Griffith has spent 301 days in prison since the fall of 2017, when he choked his mother and left multiple voice mails, and sent emails saying he was going to “bash her head in” with a hammer and burn his sister’s house down in order to kill her and her children.
“I need to start killing,” court heard from an email Griffith had written to a family member while out on bail and under order not to have contact with the relative.
Lawyers on both sides were not seeking conditions of counselling or reporting of Griffith’s whereabouts, which Judge Gregory Koturbash found unsettling.
“Do they (the family) not want to know where he is, each and every night?” he asked Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji.
Devji said past attempts to get Griffith to accept help have been unsuccessful because he is unresponsive to help, and his family is currently trying to find a balance that includes a healthy boundary.
Koturbash said he has dealt with Griffith in the past and concluded “that things aren’t completely right in his head.”
Court heard that Griffith previously suffered the loss of an infant daughter due to an accident. Since then, he has been prone to explosive fits of rage.
“An important part of the puzzle with respect to sentencing . . . is protection of the public,” Koturbash said, adding that he would like to hear from counsel how they intend to do that by letting a person who appears to be mentally ill walk out the door.
“At this point, the conditions we have in place . . . are the attempt,” said Devji, asking the judge if counselling would make any “meaningful difference” considering Griffith’s history of refusing psychological treatment.
“If there is any case that deserves the resources, it’s this case in particular,” Koturbash stressed, unwavering from his position.
Koturbash expressed concern that not imposing conditions on Griffith is only allowing him to dictate and choose his sentencing.
“The court has a duty to not leave it up to each (of the) accused,” Koturbash added, after noting that Griffith was opposed to a ban on possessing firearms and weapons.
Koturbash added that in not ordering counselling, despite counsel’s objections, he would be failing the public.
Griffith interjected several times and had to be quieted by both defence counsel Tiffany Zanatta and Koturbash so sentencing could proceed.
The Crown told the court it was seeking 60 to 90 days in jail, with credit for enhanced time served.
In sentencing, Koturbash said he would impose 90 days on Griffith, but credited him with time served. He also imposed two years of probation, and ordered that Griffith have no contact with his family, abstain from drugs or alcohol, attend counselling, not possess firearms for 10 years, provide a DNA sample and stay at least 50 kilometres away from Penticton.