Four inmates accused of attack inside Burnside jail lose bid for more freedoms

Four of the 15 inmates accused of viciously beating another inmate at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility have had their request to move out of a highly restricted unit of the jail turned down by a judge.

Andriko Crawley, Kaz Cox, Jacob Lilly and Sophon Sek acted as their own lawyers on Friday as they argued their habeus corpus application to secure their release from detention in a unit called West 4.

They said their detention in West 4 has deprived them of their liberty because they’ve been confined to their cells for between 22 and 24 hours a day.

They said it severely limits their time to do things like call their families, contact their lawyers, get exercise and get enough food.

The four accused have been in West 4 ever since the brutal beating and stabbing of a 46-year-old inmate on Dec. 2, 2019, except for Kox, who was recently moved to a close-confinement unit following the discovery of contraband in his cell.

The attack happened in North 3, a general population unit, where at least 15 inmates formed a human wall to stop guards from getting to the victim of the attack.

Guards fear for their safety

Under questioning by the four inmates Friday, Bradley Ross, one of the jail’s deputy superintendents, defended the almost 24-hour-a-day lockdown. 

He said the restrictions on their movements were put in place because the jail guards felt threatened as a result of the attack.

Ross said that has led to a serious staff shortage at the jail. He said around 18 staff members are calling in sick or refusing to work each day under Occupational Health and Safety rules because of the security risk they feel from the inmates in West 4.

Bradley Ross, the jail’s deputy superintendent, said the restrictive conditions are because of staffing shortages due to guards feeling threatened. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union has also publicly raised the issue.

Based on the staff shortage, Justice Darlene Jameson ruled it was lawful and reasonable for the inmates to be housed in West 4. But she noted that there is a plan to increase the number of hours they spend outside the cell, as staffing permits.

More details about the attack also surfaced on Friday. Andriko Crawley is accused of being involved in the actual assault, while Kaz Cox is accused of helping to plan it. He was also allegedly part of the human barricade, along with Jacob Lilly and Sophon Sek. 

All four men remain in custody and several have court appearances next week. 

The 15 inmates are each facing six charges, including attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and aggravated assault.

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