By Keith Lacey
A schoolyard drug deal that went terribly sour might land a first-time teenage offender a jail sentence after he punched the teenager he'd bought some marijuana from in the mouth.
Justice William Fitzgerald said because of the serious violence involved, he wasn't convinced Justin Bigras, 19, didn't pose a threat to the community.
For that reason he wouldn't accept a joint submission Wednesday that Bigras be sentenced to house arrest for four months and one year of probation.
Instead, Fitzgerald ordered Bigras to report to a probation officer who will prepare a pre-sentence report before Fitzgerald imposes sentence July 3.
Court heard Bigras was trying to buy about $5 of marijuana outside St. Charles College last Oct. 24 from Joshua Charbonneau, another teenager at the same high school.
Charbonneau accused Bigras of taking too much pot from him, so Charbonneau fetched "his dealer who came with his henchmen to mete out their own justice" and surrounded Bigras and pushed him down to the ground 10 to 15 times, said defence counsel Claude MacMillan.
Teachers arrived on the scene and the crowd started to disperse when Bigras stood up and hit Charbonneau with one hard shot to the mouth, which knocked out two teeth, loosened four others, shattered his braces and caused hundreds of dollars in damage.
Bigras was suspended from school for a year, but has no previous record, found a full-time job, didn't pre-meditate any violence and only reacted out of fear and frustration after being surrounded and goaded by a large group of Charbonneau's friends, said MacMillan.
"It never should have happened...but it did happen," he said. "It was an unfortunate situation, but it was the first time (his client) had ever been in trouble."
When you are surrounded by a large group who repeatedly push you to the ground and are trying to intimidate you, it's "human nature" to try and defend yourself, said MacMillan.
Howe said the case was originally screened for jail time, however, two senior members of the Crown's office agreed a conditional sentence and probation would be appropriate.
Fitzgerald told the court a pre-sentence report was necessary because this incident involved such "excessive force" and extreme violence.
If a probation officer agrees Bigras isn't a threat to reoffend, Fitzgerald hinted he will accede to the proposal for a conditional sentence and probation.