Leo Crockwell sentenced to 4 years for 2010 standoff

Leo Crockwell, the man who held the RCMP in a 2010 armed standoff in Bay Bulls, was sentenced to four years in prison Friday at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Leo Crockwell was convicted last June of five offences, including assault. (CBC )

Leo Crockwell, the man who held the RCMP in an armed standoff in Bay Bulls in 2010, was sentenced to four years in prison Friday at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Given the amount of time he has already spent in custody, Crockwell has 21 months and 25 days left to serve. After that, he will be on probation for three years.

Justice Richard LeBlanc said Crockwell is in denial about his mental health.

During the sentencing hearing, LeBlanc said Crockwell's "criminal actions were very serious," and said Crockwell blames others for what happened during the standoff rather than taking responsibility.

Mental health at centre of decision

Justice LeBlanc said the issue of Crockwell's mental health, which hung over the incident as well as the long-running court saga that ensued, was at the top of his mind. Crockwell went through no fewer than six lawyers during the case.

"I know, and most people would accept, except Mr. Crockwell, that he has some mental health issues," LeBlanc told a sentencing hearing on Thursday.

Crockwell was found guilty following a jury trial last June of assault, mischief and three weapons-related offences. He has consistently maintained that he is not mentally ill, and has pointed out that he has never been diagnosed.

Strange behaviour before standoff

But Crockwell's mental health has been a concern for others, including his family, who told RCMP as they arrived at the family home in December 2010 that they were anxious about the strange behaviour they had seen in the preceding days.

Even before he assaulted his sister, Crockwell had fired a gun in the house, and barricaded himself in the kitchen with a gun in his lap and a towel wrapped about his head.

During the standoff with RCMP, Crockwell refused to communicate with negotiators, and on the fourth day fired two shots, endangering the lives of three officers.

Leblanc said he is also troubled by Crockwell's "total lack of remorse," and said that was "a concern for the protection of the public." He noted that Crockwell has never accepted responsibility for what he did.

Crockwell motion rejected

Earlier this week, LeBlanc rejected Crockwell's motion to have the charges that led to his conviction stayed, on the grounds that the RCMP had used excessive force and had violated his Charter rights.

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany said Crockwell should receive a sentence of five years, and be given a one-for-one credit for the time he has already served.

Crockwell has been in custody since December 2010, when he was arrested soon after slipping through an RCMP cordon as the Mounties were flooding his home with tonnes of water.

Ivany's suggestion would have left Crockwell with about 34 months to serve — enough time to serve in a federal prison.

But lawyer Randy Piercey, who was appointed to serve as a friend of the court in the case, suggested that LeBlanc had several options, including giving Crockwell a day and a half's credit for each day he's been in custody.

That would have left Crockwell with nine months to serve — a sentence that could be served in a provincial institution.