KAMLOOPS — A local homeless man narrowly avoided a lengthy federal prison sentence for his attacks on peace officers and making a threat against a witness.
Matthew Charles David Hein, 28, pleaded guilty to three charges in Kamloops Provincial Court today, Oct. 29. All the offences occurred while Hein was serving a sentence at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.
Crown prosecutor Kurt Froehlich said on the first incident on March 16, Hein spotted a Crown witness from his trial on robbery charges in the gallery at the Kamloops Law Courts. Froehlich said Hein looked at the witness and drew his thumb across his neck ‘making a throat slashing gesture’.
Later on the same day, Hein assaulted a sheriff in the courthouse cells after saying ‘let’s go’ which resulted in a sheriff punching him in the head.
“(Hein) began striking him with his closed fists,” Froehlich said adding the sheriffs eventually restrained him.
A little over a month later, on April 25, Hein attacked a jail guard who tried to shackle his legs together.
"The guards took Mr. Hein to the ground and Mr. Hein bit the left forearm of the correctional officer,” Froehlich said, adding Hein didn’t release the bite until other guards pepper sprayed him. The guard spent 30 days on medical leave for medications to offset the threat of disease.
Froehlich said Hein refused to offer a blood sample so medical staff could determine if the officer was infected with a disease.
Sheldon Tate, Hein’s lawyer, said while the attacks were serious, they were not indicative of his client’s character. He said Hein suffers from an extreme case of diabetes and can regularly become ‘irritable’ if he doesn’t take his medication on time.
Tate said Hein has created a network of friendships with others living on the street and has become relied upon for food and other supports amongst the group.
“He appears to be the type of person people on the street can rely on,” Tate said, adding friends of Hein ask him daily about his client’s condition.
Both Froehlich and Tate suggested a one-year jail sentence for Hein’s three charges. But Judge Mayland McKimm was keen on delivering a two-and-a-half year sentence, which would land Hein in a federal penitentiary.
“He’s on the cusp of a sentence that gets him there,” McKimm said turning to Hein.
“You attack the people that protect us all,” he said. “You don’t like authority, we all don’t like authority. But if you don’t abide by it, we’re all just dancing in the wind.”
When given the opportunity to speak, Hein said he didn't instigate the fight with the sheriff.
McKimm handed Hein a one-year jail sentence to be served consecutively with another sentence he’s presently serving. Once released, Hein will be on probation for 18 months.
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