Nova Scotia

Halifax man declared dangerous offender after jail stabbing

In a decision released Friday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled that Shawn Michael Shea, 37, should receive an indefinite sentence for the attack at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in June 2010.

Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rules Shawn Michael Shea, 37, should serve indeterminate sentence

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has ruled in a split decision that Shawn Michael Shea is a dangerous offender. (Robert Short/CBC)

A Halifax man with a history of violence and gang affiliations who stabbed and beat a fellow inmate while in jail has been declared a dangerous offender by the province's highest court.

In a decision released Friday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled that Shawn Michael Shea, 37, should receive an indefinite sentence for the attack at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in June 2010.

Shea was convicted of aggravated assault at trial in August 2011. But Judge Anne Derrick rejected a Crown request to have Shea sentenced as a dangerous offender. Instead, she sentenced him to five years.

The Crown appealed and a majority of the three-member Appeal Court has agreed with the prosecution's position.

In total, Shea has 58 criminal convictions and has been in numerous altercations while incarcerated over the years.

"Even in the midst of a dangerous offender application, Mr. Shea could not resist the opportunity to violently attack an unsuspecting cellmate," Appeal Court Justice Cindy Bourgeois wrote.

"This does not bode well for controlling his behaviour in the community (or while incarcerated)."

Dissenting view

Bourgeois noted Shea's long history of violent offences, which began when he was just 12 years old when he set fire to the door of his school's gymnasium.

Court documents list him as a member of the gang Spryfield MOB.

"I am mindful of the gravity of imposing an indeterminate sentence," Bourgeois concluded. "It will ultimately fall to Mr. Shea to address his behaviour and cease the persistent violent behaviour which has resulted in his designation as a dangerous offender."

However, this may not be the final word in this case. One member of the appeal panel, Justice Peter Bryson, disagreed with the majority. He would have dismissed the Crown's appeal and upheld Derrick's original sentence.

The split decision means Shea has an automatic right to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, if he chooses.