July 12th, 2024

Man sent to jail for breaching probation

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 20, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who several months ago pleaded guilty to five criminal offences, then repeatedly delayed his sentencing, was hoping a judge would allow him to delay his matters even longer.

Justice Kristin Ailsby had reached the limit of her patience, however, and sent an emotional Dallas Donald Curtis to jail for three months on four charges of breaching probation and one charge of failing to attend court.

Curtis had also hoped the judge would allow him to serve his sentence intermittently – on weekends – and said he has been working for three months and is finally “doing good.”

Ailsby didn’t buy it.

“We have been trying for several months to get you before the court and you’ve refused to engage, so where are you doing good? For the last three months you’ve had stability, and notwithstanding that stability, when you were ordered to come to court, you didn’t come. So tell me the value of that stability relative to you being accountable.”

Curtis told the judge he has been trying to live his life as normally as he can and trying to improve himself, but Ailsby reminded Curtis he had previously pleaded guilty and the court has done all it can since then to accommodate his circumstances, but he still refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

Ailsby pointed out that in order for Curtis to serve his sentence intermittently, he must show he can abide by the conditions placed on him, which include reporting to probation as directed.

“What you have demonstrated, sir, is a consistent refusal or inability to engage with those opportunities, so I’m denying your application to serve your sentence intermittently.”

Before Curtis was sentenced, Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox told the judge that Curtis had breached probation on four occasions and failed to attend court once, for which he previously pleaded guilty and was to be sentenced. The breach charges were laid after Curtis failed to report to probation when required, then failed to respond to probation’s attempts to reach him by phone or mail.

His first breach occurred after he had been placed on probation in Sept. 2021 after he was sentenced to a 12-month conditional sentence followed by an 18-month probation order for uttering threats and a previous breach of probation.

His second, third and fourth breaches occurred on Jan. 18-22, March 3-8 and April 4-7, 2022. On Feb. 8, 2023 he failed to attend court in Fort Macleod.

Fox said Curtis’s charges result from a lack of attention to, and care for, the requirements of his probation order. Fox also noted the charges are relatively old because it took until Sept. 23 of last year for Curtis, who was self-represented, to enter his pleas.

“And then it’s just been a constant delay of the process.”

Fox pointed out Curtis has a criminal record, which includes breaching release conditions and multiple convictions for breaching probation. He was also sentenced in 2017 for being unlawfully at large and sentenced to 270 days in jail, and on the same day sentenced for another breach.

In addition to his 90-day jail sentence, Curtis will be on probation for one year following his release from custody, during which he must report to probation as directed and be assessed and take grief counselling and counselling for alcohol and drug abuse.

Curtis is also scheduled to return to court next week on three charges of failing to attend court, and single charges of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, resisting a peace officer and failure to have his fingerprints taken.

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