Nunavut judge releases man on bail, reversing earlier decision

Tyson Ugyuk faces charges arising from six separate incidents

A Nunavut judge has ruled that a man on bail should be released after a bail review held in June. An earlier bail hearing had determined the man should stay in custody. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

A Nunavut judge has ruled that a man on bail should be released, reversing an earlier decision to keep the man detained.

Justice Susan Cooper released Tyson Ugyuk, of Taloyoak, after a bail review held on June 29 in Iqaluit.

Ugyuk faces charges arising from six separate incidents and was in custody since April 17, 2020.

On June 24, 2019, the RCMP responded to a complaint about an incident outside the co-op involving Ugyuk. When the police tried to arrest him, he walked away. After a few minutes, the police arrested Ugyuk, who was charged with five offences.

Following his arrest, Ugyuk was released on a recognizance by the justice of the peace.

On Aug. 14, 2019, Ugyuk pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest, while the rest of the charges stemming from the same incident were either withdrawn or stayed. The sentencing hearing was put over to another date, the decision states, and Ugyuk was released on a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and to leave his father alone if asked by his father or the RCMP.

Then on Oct. 29, 2019, the RCMP received a call from Ugyuk’s mother, who told the police her son was yelling at, scaring and threatening her and her child.

Following that incident, Ugyuk was charged with mischief, breach of probation and breach of undertaking. He was released on conditions to not drink and to have no contact with his parents.

On Nov. 8, 2019, Ugyuk and a youth allegedly broke into a local hotel and stole a safe. Ugyuk was charged with break and enter with an intent to commit an indictable offence, theft, breach of probation and breach of the Aug. 14 recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Ugyuk was released following the Nov. 8 incident on conditions that he not communicate with the co-accused and stay away from the hotel.

On Feb. 12, RCMP received a call from Ugyuk’s mother stating that Ugyuk was at her house again. Ugyuk was charged with breaching the Oct. 29 undertaking and Aug. 14 recognizance.

On April 5, RCMP received a call that Ugyuk was intoxicated, trying to kick in a door and was looking for a fight. When the police arrived, he did not appear to be intoxicated. He was charged with two counts of breaching his undertaking and was released on an appearance notice.

On April 17, Ugyuk was allegedly banging on the walls of a furnace room in an apartment building and was intoxicated. He was arrested for breaching his undertaking and recognizance was placed into custody.

While in custody, he allegedly assaulted another inmate and was charged with assault.

At a bail hearing before justice of the peace Nicole Sikma, the Crown opposed Ugyuk’s release, arguing that based on his criminal record and the number of outstanding charges, he was likely to reoffend if released.

The defence had argued that while it might be reasonable to say Ugyuk would commit further offences if released, those offences were likely to be non-violent breaches of court orders. Therefore, it was not necessary to detain Ugyuk for the safety or protection of the public, the defence argued.

Sikma ruled that Ugyuk “should not be released from custody because his ability to follow court orders was concerning.”

An accused can seek a bail review at any time before a trial. In determining whether someone’s bail should be reviewed, a judge will consider whether there is a change in the accused’s circumstances, if there is a legal error in the original decision or if the original decision is inappropriate.

In her decision, Cooper ruled that the court should review Ugyuk’s bail hearing.

“The decision was brief and was focused on the likelihood of Mr. Ugyuk following bail conditions. The justice of the peace did not address the risk of danger to the public that might result if Mr. Ugyuk were released,” Cooper wrote in her decision.

A recent Supreme Court case, R. v. Zora, also determined that to be found guilty of breaching bail conditions, people have to know they are breaking them. Cooper noted that Ugyuk’s bail hearing was held before that decision was made.

Release documents were unclear

Among other factors, Cooper’s decision considered Ugyuk’s likelihood of reoffending and the nature of the risk to his family and to the community.

“The number of times Mr. Ugyuk has been arrested and released indicates that he is likely to re-offend if released, a conclusion shared by the Justice of the Peace,” Cooper wrote.

Cooper said that the conditions of Ugyuk’s release were not always clearly laid out to him because they were written in multiple documents.

Because the conditions weren’t compiled in one document, Ugyuk’s lawyer noted that Ugyuk may have misunderstood his conditions.

In addition, according to Cooper, Ugyuk’s breaches could not be considered a pattern.

“I am unable to conclude that Mr. Ugyuk’s contact with his family in breach of his conditions establishes a pattern of unwanted contact … because once his contact with his family was restricted in June of 2019, Mr. Ugyuk accrued two charges of breaching the non-contact provision over a period of a year,” Cooper wrote.

Cooper also found that Ugyuk did not pose a risk to his community.

“The allegations in April are offences more in the nature of a nuisance than criminal behaviour. They do not rise to the level of dangerousness and do not raise concerns regarding public safety,” Cooper wrote.

To that end, Cooper released Ugyuk with conditions: to attend court as directed, to have no contact with his parents and to not go to their house unless the RCMP tell him he can, to have no contact with two other individuals, and to not go to the hotel in Taloyoak.

r v Ugyuk, 2020 Nucj 27 by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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