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'I'm wrongfully convicted,' Melvin tells Halifax judge at dangerous-offender hearing

Jimmy Melvin Jr. is escorted out of Dartmouth provincial court in this file photo.
Jimmy Melvin Jr. will be sentenced in January on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The Crown wants him declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely for the protection of the public. - File

Jimmy Melvin Jr. says he was wrongfully convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, mainly because of his reputation.

The notorious Halifax crime figure is awaiting sentencing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

A jury found Melvin guilty of the charges in October 2017 in connection with a plot to kill rival gangster Terry Marriott Jr. that was foiled by police in December 2008.

Marriott was shot to death in Harrietsfield in February 2009 at the age of 34. Melvin was charged with first-degree murder in the killing but was acquitted by a jury in the spring of 2017.

The Crown wants Melvin, 38, declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely to protect the public.

After numerous delays, a dangerous-offender hearing got underway this July. Justice Peter Rosinski heard submissions from lawyers last month and is scheduled to give his decision on Melvin’s sentence in January.

On Wednesday, Melvin was given an opportunity to address the court via a video link from the Correctional Service of Canada’s Special Handling Unit, a prison in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., that has extra security for high-risk inmates who cannot be managed at a regular maximum-security institution.

 “I’m wrongfully convicted all around,” Melvin told the court.

“I beat the first-degree murder charge. … I was tried again. I was convicted loosely on my name, just being known to people that might have partaken in the trial.

“I stand by my innocence. … I’m only guilty by my name and association.”

Melvin said he wasn’t trying to say that the court doesn’t know what it’s doing. “I’m just saying that there needs to be a full investigation of all the other facts involved in this loosely fabricated conspiracy attempt.”

He also complained about being transferred to the “super-max” Quebec facility from the maximum-security Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., where he allegedly inflicted a vicious beating on another inmate in September.

“I can’t even believe I’m here,” Melvin said of the Quebec prison, which is considered Canada’s most secure prison.

“It’s a war zone here. … It’s a crazy house.”

The judge said the plan is for Melvin to appear in court in Halifax in person for the Jan. 18 sentencing decision.

Melvin has more than 60 convictions on his criminal record since 1994, including 25 for violent offences. He is serving a federal sentence for assault and other offences from altercations with guards at Nova Scotia jails.

The Crown called evidence at the dangerous-hearing last month about the Sept. 26 beating in an outdoor recreation yard at the Atlantic Institution. Melvin knocked Joshua Preeper, a Nova Scotia man serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, to the ground with a punch and then stomped on his head nine times and delivered 13 soccer-style kicks.

The assault, which was captured on surveillance video, was over in less than a minute. Melvin high-fived another man who was in the yard before correctional officers took him away.

Preeper was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, including a brain bleed. RCMP are investigating the incident but have not laid charges yet.

If Melvin is designated a dangerous offender, he will receive an indeterminate prison sentence, unless the judge is satisfied that a lesser measure would adequately protect the public. The lesser measure would be a determinate sentence with or without long-term supervision in the community for up to 10 years after his release from prison.

Crown attorney Christine Driscoll said last month there was nothing before the court to give the judge comfort that a lesser penalty would protect society.

“Because of all this, the cost that Mr. Melvin has exacted on society is just too high, and it’s time for the justice system to say ‘No more,’” Driscoll said.

Defence lawyer Ray Kuszelewski has recommended a determinate sentence with long-term supervision. He questioned the wisdom of keeping Melvin in prison indefinitely, saying he has committed many of his offences while behind bars.

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