A Nova Scotia man who’d come west will spend the next 22 months in custody for axe attacks on vehicles in the Courtenay area.
Lucus Morine, 33, was arrested after taking a large axe to three vehicles on Oct. 26 and 28, 2021. His trial took place this spring in Courtenay Provincial Court, though he had pleaded guilty to three mischief counts but was contesting three other charges for weapons possession for a dangerous purpose, one for assault with a weapon and one for uttering threats.
The first altercation was a road rage incident with a truck. Morine confronted the other driver and smashed the truck’s mirrors with an axe he had with him for gold-panning. Later that day, there was an incident with a gravel truck, which Morine said was not random but over a land dispute he had with the gravel pit owner. He smashed the headlights and side window. Two days later, he saw a van in a coffee shop parking lot which he thought belonged to men involved in the land dispute, so he damaged the vehicle and was arrested a short time later.
“I say this is an inexplicable, violent rampage,” Crown counsel Tim Morgan said during sentencing submission.
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In April, Judge Catherine Crockett had found Morine guilty on all counts except the uttering threats charge. Since that time, the judge has retired, so the task of passing sentence in court Aug. 3 fell to Judge Alexander Wolf.
In the interim, there was to be a pre-sentence report and psychiatric assessment, though Morine declined to cooperate. This left some questions around his mental state, which Judge Wolf said would have provided guidance with sentencing, especially as Morgan had posed questions about Morine’s mental health.
“Essentially, I’m not really able to make an informed decision,” the judge said. “We really just don’t have enough before the court.”
Morine, himself, admitted to the mischief and to have a problem with anger but disputed questions about his mental health. His main concern was expediency, so he could have his case handled quickly.
At trial and again at sentencing, he criticized his pre-trial custodial care, saying it had provided him with no support until right before the sentencing date.
“These institutions, I hate to say, are not built for rehabilitation,” he said via video. “There’s no programs in here. There’s no help.”
He had accepted responsibility for the mischief charge and understood how the wording for assault was being used in his case, but he stressed that he might have threatened people but had not touched anyone during any of the incidents.
“I don’t feel in my heart I assaulted anyone,” he said.
He also spoke to the nine years since a previous incarceration for a serious assault during which he had worked as a geotechnical drill operator, stayed sober and helped others with their alcoholism. Since his arrest, he had lost everything from his possessions in a locker back in Nova Scotia to his vehicle to his dog, and he has fallen deeply in debt. He told the court he would be better off working to pay taxes for programming for people who badly need it.
His lawyer, Eric Chesterley, contested the 36-month term Crown was seeking as well as the three-year probation order. Instead, he sought a decision of time-served for Morine.
“The court has to keep some perspective on this matter. Mr. Morine did not hit anyone,” Chesterley said.
In addition, Morine was being sentenced on a mischief charge from Port Alberni surrounding an incident in which he had thrown eggs outside and inside a cellular phone business, while shouting at staff to stay off his network.
In the end, the judge agreed to the Crown’s request of 36 months’ total time, with sentences of 10, 12 and 14 months to run consecutively for three of the offences, including the assault, and the remainder to run concurrently. A 15-day sentence for the Port Alberni offence also runs concurrently.
“The sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence,” Wolf said, adding, “It’s not just the individual complainants here who are the victims but the larger community.”
With credit given for time in custody totalling 420 days, the net result of the sentence is another 675 days, or approximately 22 months, left on the sentence. Along with probation, Morine also faces a weapons ban and non-contact orders for the complainants and the Port Alberni store, and he must provide a DNA order.