Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Jane Sims
Page: A3


Billy Robbins wanted out of jail to deal with his drug addiction.

The judge wanted to use his sad case to prove a point.

"Your case highlights the struggles . . . in this courthouse with the
dissolution of the drug treatment court and the position of the Crown
attorney not to participate in the program," Ontario Court Justice
Wayne Rabley said before sentencing Robbins to more jail time.

Rabley oversaw the drug court for six years until it was put on hiatus
last month. Main reason for halting the non-traditional justice
program appears to be a lack of federal prosecution resources.

Rabley's made clear his dismay the court, which gave addicts a chance
to avoid jail if they undergo extensive counselling and treatment, is
no longer operating. Last month he slammed the ruling, saying the
"traditional justice model" doesn't work for drug addicts.

The drug court required many resources from justice partners and
agencies. It often took months, even years for addicts to graduate
clean and sober.

Rabley has been a vocal opponent of its dissolution - and Robbins, 30,
never a drug court applicant, offered a convenient, in-court example
of how not to treat drug addictions in the justice system.

Robbins pleaded guilty to eight charges: seven for shoplifting and one
for possessing hydromorphone, a prescription painkiller to which he is

Robbins left Niagara Region and construction work seven years ago for
London, where he was introduced to the drug by a friend and his life
spiralled out of control.

"Billy struggles," defence lawyer Rob Kitto told Rabley.

Convictions include thefts of everything from shampoo to $450 worth of
electric toothbrushes from Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart and the Real
Canadian Superstore between May 2015 and May 2016.

On May 24, he was arrested on outstanding warrants at a south London
restaurant. When police searched him, they found a plastic Kinder egg
- - often used to sneak goods into jail - filled with tobaccos and
wrapped in a condom. A body cavity search found three hydromorphone
capsules wrapped in foil, and a lighter.

Kitto told Rabley Robbins is helped in the community by a London CARes
addiction services worker and a housing stability worker. He was
looking to get him into rehab.

And during his 47 days in custody, he was off drugs.

Kitto wanted house arrest, but assistant Crown attorney Elizabeth
Maguire argued she couldn't "think of a less appropriate candidate,"
given Robbins' constant involvement with the justice system.

Maguire said it appeared Robbins only was motivated to get sober when
he was in custody - and even then, he tried to sneak drugs in.

Robbins asked Rabley to let him out of jail so he could enter
residential rehab. "If I sit in (Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre), I
can't get help," he said.

"You don't have to convince me," Rabley said. "There's no value to be
served to be drug addicted and sitting in custody.

"You clearly have an addiction, you clearly have to deal with it and
there is no real tool to assist you."

All the court can count on are promises and hope that an addict can
get counselling and treatment on his own, he said. More often, the
addict fails and returns to drugs.

"We're going to put our heads in the sand and hope along the way you
get that (treatment) . . . because we're not going to participate," he

Rabley sentenced Robbins to 60 more days in jail, plus

The last drug court graduates are due in court July 12 to mark their
successful navigation through the program.
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