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Conditions lifted for developmentally delayed offender

May 02 2012

A developmentally delayed woman who spent 200 days in jail last year will no longer have to abide by a curfew.

On Tuesday, Victoria provincial court Judge Sue Wishart acknowledged Barbree Elliott is cognitively unable to abide by the curfew conditions of her probation order. In an attempt to have Elliott spend less time in jail, Wishart removed the conditions.

Elliott, 29, has the cognitive ability of a child between five and seven. She has bipolar disorder, and is a drug addict and a sex-trade worker.

Reports presented to the court suggest that she needs at least continuous supervision, and that locked confinement is probably the only way to keep her safe.

"Her probation orders were imposed on her to protect her because she is vulnerable and could be taken advantage of," Wishart said. "There are significant resources in the community that are monitoring her. Hopefully, she will work with those resources."

In the latest incident, Elliott was picked up downtown on April 26 at 2 a.m. She was charged with breaching her curfew, being in the Red Zone and not wearing her electronic monitoring bracelet.

The three charges were stayed Tuesday morning.

Elliott is still prohibited from entering the Red Zone - an area bounded by Bay, Blanshard, Yates and Wharf and Store streets - and must wear her bracelet.

Meanwhile, the downtown Assertive Community Treatment Team has set up an account for Elliott with Bluebird Cabs. Instead of arresting and charging her, police are to send Elliott home by taxi when she is seen downtown at night.

"Hopefully, she'll respond well to it," said Elliott's lawyer, Jesse Stamm. In January, Stamm made a public plea to the provincial government, Vancouver Island Health Authority and Community Living B.C. to build a facility to look after vulnerable, marginalized people.

He has asked for Elliott to undergo a psychiatric assessment at Community Living B.C.'s Provincial Assessment Centre.

CLBC, which delivers support and services for developmentally delayed adults in B.C., provides the funding for her care.

In 2009, the Crown agency provided 24-hour supervision for Elliott. In 2010, senior members of CLBC went to court and said they could not provide a locked facility because it is a voluntary service.

The 24-hour monitoring has been reduced to three to four hours of supervision a day at an Esquimalt apartment.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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