New Brunswick

N.B. court refuses to put man back in prison after he didn't get his medication

New Brunswick's highest court has rejected a bid by the Crown to put a man from Tobique First Nation back in prison, after he was wasn't given his medication while incarcerated on a drug-trafficking charge.

Tobique First Nation man alleged to have committed more crimes in delusional state 2 days after release

The Court of Appeal of New Brunswick ruled against revoking Timothy Anthony Sappier's interim release. (CBC)

New Brunswick's highest court has rejected a bid by the Crown to put a man from Tobique First Nation back in prison, after he wasn't given his medication while incarcerated on a drug-trafficking charge.

Timothy Anthony Sappier was convicted on Aug. 8 last year of conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Sappier filed an appeal in October and was granted release from prison on Dec. 19 by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, pending its decision.

Two days later, it's alleged, Sappier stole a bottle of water from a local convenience store and then threw $1,400 cash in the parking lot when he left the store.

RCMP Cpl. Martin Van Dijk, who arrested him that day, was so concerned about Sappier's mental health that he took him to the hospital in Perth-Andover for assessment, states a Court of Appeal ruling.

Sappier was then admitted to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton on an involuntary basis and, following a subsequent appearance in provincial court in Woodstock, was sent to the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton for a 30-day psychiatric assessment.

No medication in prison

In a decision dated March 21, Court of Appeal Justice Barbara Baird states Sappier has suffered from a mental disorder for a number of years and his treatment required him to take medication on a daily basis.

"While he was incarcerated, Mr. Sappier did not have any access to, or he did not receive his medication," writes Baird in her ruling. "Either way, it is apparent his mental condition deteriorated to the point where, on his release, he was disoriented and delusional."

It is apparent his mental condition deteriorated to the point where, on his release, he was disoriented and delusional.- Barbara Baird, Court of Appeal justice

The Crown wanted Sappier's interim release pending his appeal to be revoked because of the charges resulting from the Dec. 21 incident.

Baird rejected that request.

"It is my opinion Mr. Sappier's detention is not in the public interest," states Baird in her ruling, noting that he is not a flight risk and has deep roots in Tobique First Nation.

Conditions added to Sappier's interim release are that he take all medications prescribed by his doctors and that he live with his sister until further order of the court.

Issue concerns ombudsman

New Brunswick Ombudsman Charles Murray says medication issues with inmates are an ongoing concern in provincial institutions and in the federal penal system, which does not fall under Murray's mandate.

"This looks to me like a hand-off problem," said Murray, who is not familiar with Sappier's case other than reading Baird's ruling. The silo that was involved with his incarceration was not in communication with his after-incarceration care, he said.

"This is a known issue in the system which we are continually speaking to the departments on," Murray said.

Efforts to contact Ivan Zinger, the correctional investigator of Canada who acts as an ombudsman for federal offenders, were unsuccessful on Friday.

Sappier's lawyer, Leslie Matchim, declined to comment pending permission from his client to do so.

About the Author

Alan White is a Fredericton native who has been working as a journalist since 1981, mostly in New Brunswick. He joined CBC in 2003 and is now a senior producer. He can be reached at alan.white@cbc.ca