Murder victim's family fears Thomas Barrett attack will delay trial
Laura Jessome's mother has no sympathy for Barrett, but hopes accused killer lives
The mother of a young Cape Breton woman found dead two years ago is shocked by news the man accused of murdering her daughter was stabbed multiple times in a Dartmouth jail.
Barrett was charged last year with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Laura Jessome, 21, and Brett Elizabeth MacKinnon, 21.
"I feel no sympathy for him, but no, I don’t want him dead," Laura Jessome’s mother, Edna, tells CBC News.
"I want my day in court with him. I want him to know, face to face, how we feel, how we live now for the rest of our lives."
Laura Jessome’s body was discovered in a hockey bag floating on the Mira River, near Marion Bridge, Cape Breton, in May 2012. MacKinnon's body was found in a wooded area near Glace Bay in November 2008.
Barrett is scheduled to go on trial in November. Edna Jessome said she worries his injuries will force a delay.
"Now I’m scared everything is just going to be put off again," she said. "It’s hard to try and live this way, month after month waiting to go to a new court hearing, to find out no, it’s rescheduled, it’s rescheduled."
Barrett's time behind bars since he was charged with the murders in February 2013 hasn't been peaceful. He was involved in another incident last year and was supposed to appear in Dartmouth provincial court Monday on assault and assault with a weapon charges.
There were 154 assaults last year at the Dartmouth jail, according to the Department of Justice, a slight increase from the year prior.
Staff with the department will be looking at surveillance video and speaking with witnesses to piece together exactly what led up to the attack on Barrett.
"They'll look at the circumstances and the events leading up to the occurrence," said Bill Smith, the executive director of correctional services. "They'll look at what occurred, and then they'll, of course, look at what the follow-up was to make sure we did our jobs properly."
The union that represents correctional workers has raised concerns about staffing levels at the jail. The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union says it is working with management, but remains worried about the violence.
The justice department is refusing to say how many guards were on duty when Barrett was attacked, citing security reasons, but Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab says there were enough.
"We are continually working with staff, so at the moment I have no indication to believe that is a concern," she said.