THUNDER BAY — Defence counsel for a man charged in a hostage-taking situation at the Kenora Jail where several inmates held a correctional officer captive said his client only became involved because he was under duress.
Ryan Nickel, 33, pleaded guilty on Friday, April 9, to one count of unlawfully forcibly confining a person and assault in connection with a 2018 incident where a correctional officer at the Kenora Jail was assaulted and then held captive by a violent prisoner as other inmates made demands for drugs in exchange for his release.
In total, seven inmates were charged in connection with the offence and all received various sentences for their respective roles in the hostage-taking event.
Crown counsel Peter Keen said co-accused Patrick Kanate had threatened Nickel to help tie up the cell bars or else he would kill him.
“Unlike most of the other co-accused persons in this case who knew this was coming in advance, Mr. Nickel did not know,” Keen said.
Video surveillance of the jail shows Nickel’s involvement occurred in the first 90 seconds of the hostage situation taking place and seized when the correctional officer is attacked. Nickel is then seen distancing himself from the situation, court heard.
Although he was under duress, lawyers for the Crown stated this was not a defence for the case.
Nickel’s defence counsel, George Joseph, asked the court to find his client guilty as a party to the offence only rather than a principal.
“My client’s actions are limited to one delict and one delict only and that is the tying of the sally-port doors,” Joseph said, adding Section 17 of the Criminal Code prevents Nickel from advancing his defence of duress.
Keen agreed with Joseph’s comments saying of all the participants involved in the case Nickel was the “least involved” and video surveillance footage shows him noticeably reluctant to tie up the cell bars.
However, defence counsel asked the court to consider the components of duress as a mitigating factor in sentencing Nickel.
Joseph also told the court on the day of the offence, Nickel was in custody for charges he had not been sentenced for yet and also had no prior criminal record.
He was placed in a cell with Patrick Kanate who was bragging about having killed someone on the day of the offence and indicated he would have no problem doing it again, Joseph said.
A joint submission was accepted by an Ontario Superior Court judge of 87 days of pre-sentence custody on one count. He was also given a six-month conditional sentence order.
Part of the conditions of his sentence requires him to abide by a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew except for work, medical reasons and he must stay away from alcohol, drugs and cannot have any contact with his co-accused.