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Jail escapee wants charges waived

Philip Crosby is trying to remain in Saskatchewan to face charges of escaping the Thunder Bay District Jail in October.
Philip Robert Crosby
Philip Robert Crosby (submitted).

THUNDER BAY - An inmate in a Saskatchewan prison is hoping to avoid a return to Thunder Bay, but the Crown attorney wants him back in the city to answer for his escape from the local jail.

Philip Robert Crosby escaped from the Thunder Bay District Jail on Oct. 11, 2016 after leaving through a service door. He was arrested 14 days later on Oct. 25 in Leduc, Alta.

Crosby’s attorney in Saskatoon, Valerie Harvey, has put forward an application to the crown attorney in Thunder Bay to have his charge of escaping custody waived to Saskatchewan and avoid sending him back to Thunder Bay.

“To the cost of the tax payer in Thunder Bay, they are going to have to ship me back to Thunder Bay to plead guilty to a charge I would plead guilty to here,” Crosby said in an interview with from a Saskatoon correctional facility.

Crosby has already had several charges from British Columbia and Alberta waived to Saskatchewan and Thunder Bay is the only city left that has refused to waive any charges.

“It just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me,” said Harvey. “I can appreciate that when something like this happens in your community and there is certainly fear amongst the people in the town, I get that. But it’s not like this is a crime of national importance or anything.”

The application to waive the charges was denied following a submission by Crosby’s former attorney. When Harvey submitted the application again, it was also denied.

According to Harvey, she received a response from the crown attorney via email that read:

“It’s our position given the local notoriety of this matter and the need for justice to seen to be done locally, it is our view the escape charge should be dealt with in Thunder Bay,” the response stated. “The seriousness of the matter also weighs in favour of dealing with the matter locally.”

Crosby was facing dangerous driving and resisting arrest charges in Thunder Bay from an arrest in early 2016, which he takes full responsibility for.

“I was driving out there and got caught up in a bad situation,” he said. “Absolutely, no question, guilty of charges of dangerous driving and resisting arrest. I am guilty of the charges I did in Ontario.”

Crosby became the subject of a nation-wide warrant after escaping from the Thunder Bay District Jail in October. According to Crosby, he was a minimum-security inmate with fence clearance, which gave him permission to work outside of the fence.

At the time of his escape, he was working in the kitchen and slipped out through a service hatch where food was being delivered.

“We were in the basement and the truck pulls up and there is a hatch that opens up, a door about three feet wide by three feet high, and it opens and they put the boxes of food through there and the inmates grab them and put them in storage,” Crosby said. “When they opened the door, I just jumped out and ran away.”

Crosby said he fled because of medical reasons, which he said were not being treated at the Thunder Bay District Jail.

“I had blood in my stool and I went to see the doctor a few times, and he just told me to forget it, forget it, and sent me back to my cell,” Crosby said. “It got so bad and then one day I said I got to see a doctor and I took off.”

Harvey said she will continue to try and convince the crown attorney to waive the charges to Saskatchewan.

“It’s routine, this happens all the time where these kinds of charges get waived in,” she said. “It’s a huge expense to transfer prisoners. If it was a murder, I would understand, but it’s an escape, so there is a maximum sentence on this is two years. It’s a huge expense to the public.”

Harvey added there is no minimum sentence for escaping, and could only result in a fine or several days in custody.

“I was a minimum-security inmate in that jail with fence clearance,” Crosby said. “I just ran off. There were no guards around, I didn’t break out or anything, I just ran away. Why Thunder Bay wouldn’t waive the charges out here, save the taxpayers money?”

The Crown attorney was not immediately available for comment.