June 13th, 2024

Multiple threats attract seven month sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 20, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man has been sentenced to seven and a half months in jail for threatening to kill several people, including police and courthouse employees.

John Atem Ayiel, 43, was sentenced Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court after he pleaded guilty to one count each of assault and mischief, two counts of breaching release conditions, and four counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.

On Nov. 1, 2020, a heavily intoxicated Ayiel called 911 and told the operator he was experiencing racial issues and was going to kill white people. Police traced the location of the call to an apartment building, and when they arrived they found another man whom Ayiel had assaulted.

The man told police Ayiel was banging on his door, and when he opened the door Ayiel tried to enter. When the man blocked him from entering, Ayiel “took a swing” at him.

Two months later, on Jan. 11, 2021, while Ayiel was bound by a release order not to contact the man or go to the apartment building in the 1200 block of 5 Avenue South, a police officer patrolling in the area saw Ayiel enter the building. Although Ayiel had on that occasion gone to a different unit, he was still in breach of the order.

Ayiel did make contact with the previous victim the following month, however, which breached his no contact order. On Feb. 25, 2021 the man called 911 and said Ayiel was refusing to leave the apartment building and was threatening to kill him; threats that could be heard by police dispatch who was still on the phone with the complainant.

Ayiel was in trouble again after he called 911 multiple times on May 6, 2021, saying he was at another residence and the homeowner was threatening to kill him. Police responded and spoke to the homeowner, who denied the accusations.

Police found Ayiel nearby carrying a bottle of vodka, and when they pulled up to him, Ayiel struck the police cruiser with his hand and put a dent in the hood.

Ayiel was uttering threats again later the same month against the man whom he claimed had threatened him earlier in the month. Ayiel, who was again calling 911, complained his cellphone had been taken, and when police arrived the man told them he wanted Ayiel to stop showing up at this residence.

Ayiel became upset, said the police were stupid, and he would take matters into his own hands. Police warned him against being a vigilante, and he said he didn’t care and was prepared to go to jail. He was arrested and told the officer he was going to kill the man and police, then formed the shape of a gun with his fingers and said “bang.”

He also made additional threats while he was in custody.

“He also called Public Safety Communication Centre a number of times, saying that he was going to do it himself and that he was going to kill somebody tonight,” Crown Prosecutor Adam Zelmer told court.

Five months later Ayiel was arrested again while he was at the Provincial Building on 5 Avenue South, and repeatedly yelled that he would kill his “worker” if he didn’t get his money. Ayiel was subject to a trespass ban at the time for similar behaviour in the past.

After police arrived and arrested him, Ayiel yelled at them and said he would kill his worker once he was released from jail.

Later in October Ayiel again called 911 and, in relation to a number of pending court dates for his previous crimes, said, “If I go to court, I will kill them.”

Calgary lawyer Marc Crarer told court Ayiel suffers from addictions, particularly to alcohol, which cause him to angrily lash out at others.

In addition to his jail sentence, which was reduced by 131 days for time he spent in remand custody, Ayiel will also be on probation for one year, during which he must receive psychological counselling and treatment for anger management and substance abuse.

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