Drug psychosis led to lengthy police standoff at Kamloops Denny's: court | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Drug psychosis led to lengthy police standoff at Kamloops Denny's: court

FILE PHOTO - A man armed with a knife who barricaded himself inside Denny's restaurant in Kamloops has been taken into custody, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
September 24, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - A 30-year-old man involved in two separate incidents last summer where he intentionally started a grassfire and was involved in a 10-hour standoff at a downtown restaurant was suffering from self-induced drug psychosis, Kamloops court heard today.

Justin Braden Hodge, 30, pleaded guilty today, Sept. 24, in Kamloops Supreme Court to four charges stemming from June and August 2018.

The first incident occurred on June 18, 2018, according to Crown counsel Alexandra Janse.

Kamloops firefighters responded to a suspicious fire near Aberdeen Drive and Highway 5A. Although the fire was contained quickly, fire crews noticed an individual, later identified as Hodge, who was sitting nearby naked and appeared to be meditating.

RCMP attended and arrested Hodge. They noticed he was non-responsive and had a blank stare, Janse said.

When asked if he wanted to speak to a lawyer, Hodge said “I need to call princess” and continued to make odd comments. Firefighters also noticed drug paraphernalia nearby.

The RCMP’s mental health unit Car 40 was dispatched to speak with Hodge. Police determined Hodge was showing signs of psychosis and he admitted he had used methamphetamines. He told police he had started the grassfire with pieces of paper he had found in his pocket and lit them on fire with a lighter, Janse said.

A not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) report was conducted and the doctor noted Hodge appeared to be under the influence of a drug psychosis at the time.

“They were not able to say definitively that he was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder,” Janse said.

Hodge’s other charges stem from an incident that took place on Aug. 2, 2018.

Hodge entered the Denny’s in downtown Kamloops located on Columbia Street at around 2 a.m. to use the washroom.

A staff member noticed Hodge behaving oddly.

Hodge then went into the restaurant and sat down and ordered food. When the waiter brought over the bill around 4 a.m., Hodge asked to use a pen.

“He was given a pen. Sat there for about half an hour and appeared to be zoning out,” Janse said.

Hodge handed the bill back to the waiter. The employee noticed Hodge had written a note that said: “hand over your keys and wallet, I am in control now, there are bombs all over Kamloops, there are many of us.”

The waiter noticed Hodge had a can of Axe body spray hanging around his neck and Hodge indicated that it was a bomb. He also had a green sock with a hard circular object inside. It was later determined the object was a rock.

At this point, police were called and all customers and employees were escorted outside of the restaurant. A lengthy standoff with police started when Hodge refused to come out of the building.

The RCMP’s Explosive Disposal Unit was called and the Emergency Response Team used a remote-controlled robot to locate Hodge. Police found him naked in the kitchen of the restaurant and were able to gain entry and take Hodge into custody, Janse said.

Police also ended up deploying tear gas inside the restaurant which required extensive clean up by a professional team.

When police entered the building, they noted the handicap washroom had broken tiles and clothes on the floor. They also found the green sock with the round rock on a baby diaper changing table. There was also a wet note on the floor that had the words ‘I am God’ written along with a star.

Hodge was cooperative with police when he was arrested and even thanked them. Janse said he gave concerning answers to police when they asked if he wanted a lawyer. When he was read his Charter Rights, Hodge replied by saying he was trying to save dolly and also made suicidal comments.

He was taken to hospital and it was found he was under extreme effects of self-induced intoxication.

Hodge has been in custody at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre since his arrest last August. Janse said this case was particularly difficult to prosecute considering Hodge’s lengthy criminal history along with his mental health issues.

Some of his previous convictions include the use of weapons, violent behaviour and breaches.

“We did have access to the (not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder) report outlining his lengthy history of mental health issues… self-medicating with street drugs and since being in custody he has done much better,” Janse said. “(He) seems to do well in the structured setting and is very interested in entering into residential treatment for drug problems.”

Hodge’s lawyer, Lisa Scruton, says her client has suffered from mental health issues since his childhood.

“When we had an assessment done back in November 2018 it was acknowledged that he had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia although this assessment ultimately didn’t provide that same diagnosis it said that it was substance use disorder and substance-induced psychosis,” Scruton said.

Since being in custody, Scruton says Hodge has been taking advantage of the programs available to him to maintain his sobriety and help his underlying mental health issues.

Hodge pleaded guilty to one count of uttering a threat, carrying a weapon (knife), breaching a probation order and one count of mischief. Crown counsel entered a stay of proceeding on one count of robbery and one count of arson damaging property, meaning they will not be continuing with prosecution at this time.

Justice Dev Dley sentenced Hodge to 12 months in jail, a joint submission from Crown and defence. Since Hodge has been in custody since his arrest in August he will only have one day left to serve in jail.

He also received a one-year probation term where he will be expected to continue to maintain his sobriety and address his mental health issues. He also will be prohibited from possessing any firearm, restricted weapon or explosive substance.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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