The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) Appeal Division has upheld a decision from February to deny day and full parole to a man classified by the court as a dangerous offender.
Gordon Frank Nickerson, 42, formerly of Yarmouth, appealed on several grounds and a decision was rendered June 17. The appeal division did not address issues Nickerson raised which are outside of parole board and appeal division jurisdiction.
These include a contention by Nickerson that his file contains inaccuracies and that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is not providing him with appropriate programming to meet his needs.
In a written decision from the appeal division, Nickerson is encouraged to raise the matter with his parole officer or with the Office of the Correctional Supervisor if he has concerns about “the quality or veracity of the information” contained in his file.
DANGEROUS OFFENDER DESIGNATION
A second-time Aboriginal federal offender, Nickerson pleaded guilty to all 12 charges against him in April 2012. The Crown made application to the court at that time to have Nickerson declared a dangerous offender.
At a sentencing hearing in September 2014, Judge Alan Tufts said there are four avenues for the Crown to seek a dangerous offender declaration and, if Nickerson met any of those four sets of criteria, the court must find him dangerous.
These include a pattern of repetitive behaviour, a pattern of persistent aggressive behaviour, an offence of a brutal nature and failure to control sexual impulses. In summarizing his written decision, Tufts said he was satisfied “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Nickerson met all four sets of criteria. Nickerson was sentenced to an indeterminate term of federal incarceration.
FACTS OF THE CASE
Nickerson was arrested on Feb. 29, 2012. He was charged with two counts of kidnapping; two counts of committing sexual assault while carrying a weapon or imitation weapon, breaking and entering a house and committing the indictable offence of kidnapping and breaching a recognizance.
Nickerson was charged also with two counts of assault; dangerous driving and failing to stop after being involved in an accident with the intent of escaping civil or criminal liability.
Nickerson had entered the residence of his intended victim to wait for her and confront her. A close family member of the victim entered the residence and Nickerson sexually assaulted her and bound her with duct tape.
When his intended victim arrived home, he bound her as well. Nickerson forced the two victims into a vehicle and violently sexually assaulted his intended victim. He was armed with a knife and threatened the women to gain compliance.
Nickerson drove the vehicle with the women inside. When he slowed down, they attacked him and exited the vehicle. Nickerson sped through traffic, went through the intersection of Commercial Street and Middle Dyke Road in New Minas and caused a collision. Nickerson fled the scene.
Victim impact statements were submitted to the court and the PBC received a victim statement in March 2017. According to the PBC, these statements “clearly outline the significant emotional and mental trauma you (Nickerson) have caused your victims and how your behaviour continues to have lasting negative impact upon their sense of personal security and well-being.”
GROUNDS OF APPEAL CONSIDERED
Nickerson contends that the board relied on incomplete and erroneous information provided to it by CSC, using as an example the matter of Nickerson’s suspension from day parole during his first federal sentence.
He contends that the board has failed to adequately assess his case and consider the systemic and background factors of racism and colonialism that impact Nickerson as an Indigenous offender.
Nickerson contends that the board made an error in law by failing to observe the principles of fundamental justice in the management of his case. Specifically, that the board has an obligation to ensure that he receives the right programming and that it has failed to do so.
Nickerson also submits that the board failed to consider relevant information, specifically regarding certain incidents that were documented in his file, including an alleged computer tampering incident inside the institution.
For these reasons, Nickerson asked the appeal division to review the board’s decision and order a new hearing to consider his day and full parole.
After reviewing the information before it, the appeal division concluded that the board did not fail to consider relevant information.
“Rather, it appears that the board considered your case in a reasonable and appropriate fashion, it assessed the risk that you would pose to society if released on conditional release and it weighed the various factors against each other,” the written decision states.
The board ultimately concluded that Nickerson’s rigid thinking and unwillingness to fully engage with all recommended and available interventions offered by his CMT (case management team) is a self-imposed barrier which is restricting his progress.
Notwithstanding the absence of “a better tailored correctional plan” to fit the circumstances of his case - including sex offender programming specific to Aboriginals - the board believes that Nickerson’s continued incarceration has not become “grossly disproportionate” to his case. It believes Nickerson remains “a work in progress.”
The board concluded that Nickerson’s risk to re-offend was undue and denied him day and full parole.
“The appeal division concludes that the board’s analysis was reasonable, and was based on relevant and reliable information and conveyed to you in a logical, clear and cogent fashion,” the written decision states.
Nickerson was also denied day parole following a February 2018 hearing.