May 21st, 2024

Extortion sentencing delayed

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 22, 2021.


A Lethbridge man who pleaded guilty more than a year ago to charges of extortion and being unlawfully in a house to commit an indictable offence, has parted ways with his lawyer.
The accused, Oluwaseye Adekunle Morawo, was set to be sentenced Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court, but the hearing was unable to proceed when his lawyer – his second since being charged in 2019 – said there had been a breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship and needed to withdraw.
“I was hoping to have this matter resolved today,” said Calgary lawyer Tonii Roulston. “Unfortunately…Mr. Morawo and I have simply come to a situation where there’s a breakdown and I’m unable to proceed on this matter.”
Morawo pleaded guilty to the charges on Nov. 13, 2020, and admitted he entered a woman’s residence on Sept. 14, 2019, and forced her to return money he had paid her to rent a room in her apartment.
In August of last year Morawo arranged to rent a room in the woman’s residence and later he e-transferred her a deposit of $500.
On Aug. 31 he and a friend showed up at her house and Morawo said he no longer wanted to rent the room, and demanded she return the deposit. She didn’t immediately return it and later learned she was not obligated to, especially since she had taken the room off the market after she received the deposit.
She texted Morawo and said she would not return the deposit, and after he threatened to take her to court, he and his friend showed up at her residence and walked in without her permission. When the woman told them to leave or she would call the police, Morawo grabbed her cellphone.
Fearing for her safety – the other man would not let her leave her residence – she drove to her bank with the two men closely following her in another vehicle. While she waited for the cash from the drive-through teller, Morawo stood in front of her vehicle to prevent her from leaving. She gave him the money and he left the area, but police found him later and he was arrested and charged.
Since his guilty pleas, the case has been repeatedly adjourned for sentencing. In June of this year Morawo was to be sentenced but the matter was brought forward a month earlier when his first lawyer asked to withdraw because of a breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship.
A short time later Morawo was expected to ask the court to strike his guilty pleas, but Tuesday Roulston said there may be an application to rectify the pleas “on what ought to have been entered in the first place.”
She said defence and the Crown have agreed on what pleas should be entered, and that was to happen Tuesday, before Roulston was allowed to withdraw as Morawo’s lawyer.
The matter has been adjourned to Feb. 3, 2022 to allow time for the accused to retain another lawyer, but it will likely be adjourned again to set a new date for a sentencing hearing.

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