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Psychiatric test ordered for man with history of violence

Jun 30 2012

For the first nine years of his life, Windstand Paul Lionel was a feral child, living on the streets in Saint Lucia before being adopted by a Victoria woman.

On Friday, the 30-year-old, who has an extensive history of violence and arson, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine whether he may be a dangerous or longterm offender and possibly face a life in prison.

Crown prosecutor Paula Donnachie applied for the psychiatric assessment, telling Justice Keith Bracken that Lionel pleaded guilty June 4 to the aggravated assault of an unknown man outside Streetlink Emergency Shelter on April 21, 2010.

Lionel, who is also known by the surname Nurmi, became upset during a conversation with a stranger and grabbed the man by the throat, said Donnachie. The man became unconscious and fell to the ground. At that point, Lionel began kicking and stomping on his man's head.

People in the area tried to intervene, but were threatened by Lionel, said Donnachie. Lionel walked away from the man, who was lying on the ground not moving, then came back and began kicking and stomping on him again.

Police arrived as Lionel was leaving the area. He was taken to city cells but police became concerned about his erratic behaviour and took Lionel to the hospital, said Donnachie.

Lionel's victim had "incredibly serious injuries," said Donnachie, showing photographs of Lionel's footprint on several areas of the man's body.

Lionel had only been out of jail two or three days when he committed the aggravated assault, Donnachie told the court. In December 2009, he received a 30-month sentence followed by three years of probation after pleading guilty to setting fire to a house rented to his girlfriend in Cadboro Bay on Dec. 14, 2008.

That case drew public attention when it was revealed that two Oak Bay police officers had arrested Lionel earlier that morning. When he became agitated and injured himself in the back of a police car, they took him to Eric Martin Pavilion mental-health facility and left him with staff. Lionel left about five hours later and set fire to the home, which was reduced to rubble.

Lionel has two convictions for assault with a weapon and numerous convictions for assault against girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, friends and strangers. Lionel has cognitive deficits and is very low functioning. Drugs and alcohol use contribute to his problem, said Donnachie.

In ordering the assessment, Bracken said he was persuaded Lionel had committed a serious personal injury offence and that his criminal record shows a pattern of repetitive behaviour. The assessment is to be completed within 60 days.

Lionel, who has been in custody for the past two years, will appear in court again on Aug. 29 to set a date for a hearing.

ABOUT THE DESIGNATIONS

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 typically have been found guilty of a serious personal injury offence and have demonstrated a pattern of repetitive or aggressive behaviour that makes them a threat to public safety.

Those declared 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.

Dangerous offenders who are paroled are monitored for the rest of their lives. If they continue to present an unacceptable risk to society, they will stay in prison for life.

Long-term offenders typically have been convicted of a serious personal injury offence and are considered likely to reoffend.

Long-term offenders 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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