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Dangerous offender status considered

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 15/04) - A hearing to determine whether an Iqaluit man should be deemed a dangerous offender is expected to conclude this week.

On May 4, 2001, 39-year-old Mosesee Nowdluk broke into Nunavut Arctic College and stole some items which he traded for alcohol.

The following day, Nowdluk "had a party at which he assaulted a woman and then set the apartment on fire," said Crown attorney Christine Gagnon, outside of court.

Nowdluk has been convicted of one count each of common assault, break-and-enter and arson endangering life in connection with the incident, Gagnon said.

Nowdluk has also been charged with assault with a weapon after a person was hit in the head with a hammer while walking on the street, Gagnon said.

The hammer assault was the "trigger incident" that brought the crown application for dangerous offender status, Gagnon said.

Nowdluk has 14 violent offence convictions dating back to 1982, Gagnon said.

If Justice Earl Johnson finds Nowdluk guilty of the hammer incident, he will then determine whether to grant the Crown's application.

To label someone a dangerous offender, Johnson must decide whether the offense is seriously violent in nature, whether the accused has a clear pattern of aggressive behaviour and if there is a future risk for harm, Gagnon said.

Dangerous offender status means seven years in prison before parole is even considered.

Johnson could also rule Nowdluk is a long-term offender, where he would serve a lesser minimum sentence of two years, followed by probation of up to 10 years.

But Johnson may choose to reject both labels and hand down a regular sentence, even if Nowdluk is found guilty of assault with a weapon.

Gagnon said she expects Johnson to issue a written decision. The Crown is calling between 10 and 15 witnesses during the hearing.

This is the first dangerous offender application made since Nunavut separated from the NWT in 1999, Gagnon said.