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'I don't want to do it anymore,' man tells his dangerous offender hearing

Mar 23 2012

Matthew Scott Pelkey took the stand at his dangerous offender hearing Thursday and testified that he realizes he has a serious problem with alcohol.

"The violence has hurt people and it's always to do with alcohol," said the 28-year-old, who grew up on the Tsawout First Nations reserve in Central Saanich. "The last time, someone didn't make it. That's pretty bad."

Crown prosecutor Carmen Rogers has applied to have Pelkey declared a long-term or dangerous offender.

In September 2010, Pelkey pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the beating death of Sanjay Ablak outside Streetlink Emergency Shelter on Dec. 8, 2008.

Ablak, a 42-year-old husband, father and Safeway employee, was outside the shelter that morning with a prostitute. They had a disagreement over a bag of potato chips.

An intoxicated Pelkey, who was lying on the steps, got up and walked to the middle of Swift Street and punched Ablak in the face, then repeatedly kicked him.

Pelkey also has two convictions for aggravated assault, one for assault causing bodily harm and one for common assault.

Pelkey testified that he began drinking at 14, usually on the weekends. He told Justice Malcolm Macaulay that his parents argued and fought with him about his drinking.

"They tried everything possible not to let me drink, but eventually, they'd drink themselves and I'd find a way," he testified.

His father was nicer when he drank. At one point, his mother apologized to him for drinking when she was pregnant with him, said Pelkey.

His mother died in 2008. He has had no contact with his father for more than a year. "I tried to phone him, but the number had changed," he testified.

Defence lawyer Jim Heller asked Pelkey if he remembers assaulting Ablak on the night he died.

"No," Pelkey replied. "My closest memory is sitting in the back of a car and someone asking me what was going on. I'm pretty sure it was a cop car."

"What do you remember about that day?" asked Heller.

"I was drinking."

Pelkey testified that he thinks about Ablak a lot.

"I don't feel good about it. I took a person's life, most likely over nothing. I don't know what happened."

Heller asked Pelkey how he would feel about being supervised in the community as a long-term offender

"I think I would be good. I've been thinking of everything I've done that is wrong and I don't want to do it anymore," he said.

In a letter entered as evidence, Pelkey says that he is sorry for what he has done and is willing to take medicine to help him stop drinking. Also entered as evidence were certificates from drug and alcohol counselling and relationship courses he has completed.

His goals are to get a job and his own place, "maybe a girlfriend or something."

If released, Pelkey said he would try to make things better with family members he has hurt.

The court also heard Pelkey has asked Corrections staff to place him in protective custody because he doesn't want to fight anyone, anymore.

His testimony continues today.

The primary objective of the dangerous offender designation is to protect the public from offenders who have committed serious sexual or violent offences, except murder, and continue to pose a threat to society.

Dangerous offenders are often in prison for life, although they are to be reviewed for parole seven years after being incarcerated, and every two years after that. If paroled, they are monitored for the rest of their lives.

Long-term offenders have been convicted of a serious personal injury offence and are considered likely to reoffend. They can be managed through a regular sentence, along with a specific period of federal supervision in the community of up to 10 years after their release.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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