Nova Scotia

B.J. Marriott pleads guilty in Halifax-area jail beating

Brian James (B.J.) Marriott has pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault in relation to an incident at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., in December 2019.

Crown seeking to have Marriott declared a dangerous offender

B.J. Marriott is shown outside a courthouse on Jan. 9, 2020. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Brian James (B.J.) Marriott has pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault in relation to the beating of an inmate at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., in December 2019.

Marriott was one of 15 inmates charged following the attack on Stephen Anderson in their cell block less than an hour after Anderson had been admitted to the jail.

Several men took part in the attack while others, including Marriott, formed a human wall to prevent guards from intervening. All but one of the other 14 have been convicted for their part in the incident and are in the process of being sentenced.

Marriott entered his guilty plea in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday morning. He appeared by video link from a provincial jail. His lawyer, Nathan Gorham, along with the two Crown prosecutors, also appeared by video as the courts continue to observe tight pandemic restrictions.

Marriott's guilty plea has been the subject of negotiations between Crown and defence for weeks. A sticking point has been the Crown's bid to try to have Marriott declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely.

Cells are seen during a media tour of renovations at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The Crown argues that Marriott was one of the ringleaders of the attack on Anderson and he intended to do him serious harm. They quote remarks attributed to Marriott when he first spotted Anderson in the day room, moments after he arrived in the jail.

"You go figure that out all right now," Crown prosecutor Scott Morrison quoted Marriott as saying to other inmates. "Go figure that all out. Grab like four or five guys."

Gorham countered by saying the Crown has failed to prove Marriott's role as a leader in the attack. Gorham also repeated an argument made by defence lawyers for some of the other men convicted in this case, that they were trying to get Anderson "bounced" from the cell block and not kill or seriously injure him.

Bouncing was described at the two earlier trials as a practice of threatening or injuring an inmate who is unwelcome in a cell block. Anderson suffered serious injuries and had to be rushed to hospital. He has since recovered.

Judge to rule

Gorham said Marriott knew of a plan to assault Anderson, but the lawyer said the Crown had failed to prove Marriott was masterminding a plot to kill or seriously injure him.

Justice Jamie Campbell will rule later this month on which points the Crown has succeeded in proving against Marriott, beyond his basic admission that he participated in the assault and was guilty of that single offence.

Of the other inmates accused in the attack on Dec. 2, 2019, 12 have been found guilty of aggravated assault and one has been convicted of obstruction. The 14th accused, Sephon Sek, is terminally ill and is not expected to stand trial.

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