Whitehorse Daily Star

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NEW LEGAL DIFFICULTIES – Michael Nehass (above) is accused of failing to report as directed in Dawson Creek, B.C., court documents state. Photo courtesy FACEBOOK

Yukoner scheduled for bail hearing in Fort St. John

Michael Nehass is back in custody in British Columbia following his release on bail conditions.

By Emily Blake on January 4, 2018

Michael Nehass is back in custody in British Columbia following his release on bail conditions.

The 33-year-old Tahltan man, who struggles with mental health issues, was recently arrested after he was charged with breach of an undertaking or recognizance.

According to court documents, on Dec. 15, Nehass allegedly failed to report as directed in Dawson Creek, B.C.

A bail hearing was scheduled for the matter this morning in Fort St. John, B.C. provincial court.

The charge comes following a peace bond application by the B.C. Crown.

Nehass was initially released on bail conditions on Nov. 3 after a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the Fort St. John provincial court on Oct. 19 to face the application.

According to Daniel McLaughin, a spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service, the peace bond application was based on an informant’s declaration that he has “reasonable grounds” to fear Nehass will commit a serious personal injury offence against him.

Nehass’ prior criminal history is also cited as grounds for the application.

Further details, including the identity of the informant, are protected under a publication ban.

Prior to the recent criminal charge, Nehass spent nearly six years in remand custody on charges stemming from the alleged knife-point assault of a woman in Watson Lake in 2011.

During his incarceration at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC), much of it spent in segregation, his mental health deteriorated.

In November 2016, Nehass was transferred to the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, where he was diagnosed with schizoffective disorder.

The legal saga ended on Sept. 8, 2017, when the Yukon Crown filed a stay of proceedings in the matter, releasing Nehass from the criminal system.

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale has called Nehass’s “odyssey of incarceration” a “sad state of affairs” for the Yukon in his memorandum on the case.

As well, the high-profile case has raised concerns about the use of segregation and treatment of inmates with mental health concerns.

David Loukidelis has begun his inspection of the WCC, as directed by Yukon Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, with a focus on the treatment of inmates with mental illness.

Loukidelis is required to submit a final inspection report to the minister by March 29.

The Department of Justice has promised to publicly release its final report and response by June 29.

Comments (8)

Up 0 Down 0

I agree with Dawn on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

I agree with Dawn Loverin in her assessment of the lack of infrastructure / service for the mentally ill. We have huge departments full of government workers but very little actual treatment or help or facility space for mentally ill people. I had a very small interaction with the system through trying to get immediate help for an acquaintance and was shocked to see that it's "Not My Job", for the workers in one agency after another after another.

The people who respond are the RCMP. Then there is a quick stay at the hospital - maybe; and that's 72 hours. Beyond that, yes, it appears the person has to commit a serious crime, and not simple property offenses and so on, but injuring or killing another human being or themselves before 'the system' kicks in.

Then we have all the money in the world for judges and lawyers and psychiatric witnesses, jail guards and meal cooks and cleaning staff; a secure facility, a high wall; you name it. Lots and lots of money to be spent once it turns criminal!

Human suffering aside, even the financial end of things doesn't make sense, and why do we have dozens or hundreds of people working in social services if there is nobody to intervene when help is needed? No facility before an assault or murder is committed? Ship them to Maple Ridge?

I know this is a really tricky situation and that 'patient rights' is a big part of it. People objected very strongly to psychiatric patients who had committed no crimes being 'held' against their will in locked facilities, which were often a nightmare (One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest). As a result, the doors were thrown open and all these sick people ended up on the streets.

Let's come up with some middle ground here that works for everyone.

Up 2 Down 4

L M on Jan 8, 2018 at 9:52 am

Anyone locked away in a 6 by 6, for 23 hours a day for repeated years is enough to make the sanest of people crack. Not to mention the verbal, mental, emotional life of being in prison (we know....he put himself there!). The correctional system is broken, we have seen these cases involving people with mental health issues before and unfortunately until staff at correctional facilities have crucial\intense mental health training (not 2 day courses) and the system changes for these few people. We will continue to see people suffer, and leave the prison system far worse than they went in.
It will cost all far more in the long run, if we do not help these people reintegrate into our and their communities after incarceration. If the right programming and supports were put in place in the beginning...we may have had a different outcome!

Up 3 Down 4

Dawn Loverin on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:44 am

If this was your child and from the day you knew there where mental health issues at a young age and you did everything you could to support him and talked to many doctors, and even had him sent to BC children's hospital, phyc ward, and they said there are issues but have no plan, and send him home, even when he didn't want to come home till he received help, even Maples in BC, supposed to be the best place for a child to get help, and they send him home.
What other support are the parents to supposed to give when the two best places for him to have been just sent him home. There truly is no help for your child with mental illness, there is no help at all and believe me we tried everything there was to offer but was always sent home even when he wanted the help. So flap off your mouths. Have you ever seen that commercial on mental illness? You can never understand until your there with your own child. So he has had support from his family but when you have no where to turn and no one to help your child or his family, you tell me what to do?
People don't understand mental illness till it's in your family, and when you realize there's no one there to help you, and hit walls everywhere. It's draining, stressful, heart breaking and money draining, emotionally draining, but you do your best. And once their an adult it's even harder. Especially when he's a teenager and the systems tells you if he doesn't like where he is he doesn't have to stay. So that is another reason why there are so many homeless teenagers!
Don't judge till you and your family have lived the nightmare of hopelessness and disappointment in society, the Mental Heath, none of them will support you, or your family. There is nothing out there for your child. Only God can judge.

Up 4 Down 0

yukon56 on Jan 7, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Some time soon he will have violent episode and I hope no one loses their life

Up 6 Down 2

The realist on Jan 5, 2018 at 6:48 pm

Is there research out there that says First Nations people can’t be psychopaths? Have Veale and company ever had Nehass tested? What would his score out of 40 be?

Psychopathy cannot be reversed. All the healing circles in the world will not heal this disorder. You may as well sweep all of the advice that the elders give under the carpet.

Michael Nehass is a very manipulative person and should be tested.

Up 7 Down 3

Scott Currie on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm

He has mental issues but seems to be smart enough to avoid lengthy prison time using his disorder as a means to fool everyone inclusive of his lawyer and his family. If he is violent like he seems to be then putting him in segregation is the only option. The prison has to be safe for other inmates too. Putting him in the general population would be like putting a female in the same locker room with men and hoping nothing happens. If he has that many issues he needs to be locked up in a psych ward permanently. This all about trying to blame the judicial system for his problems. It’s him who fails to comply with his conditions. It is his family AND HIS lawyer who fails to make sure he does too.

Up 7 Down 3

Anon on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm

What sensationalist nonsense! The majority of this article isn't even about why Nehass is back in jail, it's dredging up old news in an attempt to further smear the Justice system.

HE failed to report. HE did. This is HIS fault, not the system's. If he behaved himself, and if his family supported him like they swore they were going to, he wouldn't be arrested and go to jail.

Up 7 Down 2

My Opinion on Jan 4, 2018 at 10:55 pm

Lock this Mo Fo up for good, before he kills someone.

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