Man jailed for violent home invasion
A naked, violent man who committed a terrifying home invasion while in the midst of a psychotic break from reality was sentenced in Ontario Court last month.
Ranting and screaming, Mitchell Gee, 36, smashed down the front door of a couple’s home on Charlotteville Road 8 in the small community of Silver Hill on Oct. 18, 2016.
He threatened them with a pair of scissors, stabbed himself repeatedly and then wrapped himself in an heirloom quilt before turning on all four elements of the kitchen range and lighting the quilt on fire.
“No one should have the sanctity of their residence violated in this way,” said Justice Kevin Sherwood as he sentenced Gee.
The 77-year-old male resident of the home grabbed a baseball bat and kept Gee at bay but eventually, the man and his wife locked themselves in their garage.
Gee broke through that door as well.
Police responded to the incident in force, cordoning off the area and re-routing traffic.
Last September, Gee pleaded guilty to breaking and entering in order to commit arson.
During his recent sentencing, Sherwood said that, despite his terrifying behaviour, Gee is a sympathetic character.
Raised in a dysfunctional home and put on strong drugs for an injury, Gee turned to harder drugs to medicate his grief after the death of his fiance eight years ago.
He’s now been diagnosed as bipolar with post-traumatic stress disorder, possible fetal alcohol syndrome disorder and poly-substance abuse.
“I cracked,” Gee told the judge.
“When I beat down their door I was screaming and hollering for help. It doesn’t excuse what happened but when I went to (jail) they put me on an anti-psychotic and it changed my life. Everything is slowly coming back together.”
After he was released on bail, Gee was able to get treatment and hold down a job.
Sherwood heard from assistant Crown attorney Gracie Romano who recommended Gee go to jail for two years.
\“He’s maintained his sobriety and it appears to be methamphetamine that triggered his behaviour,” said Romano, “but this was a terrifying home invasion that caused significant damage to the (couple) emotionally and to their property.”
But Gee’s defence lawyer, Albert Smelko, said two years would be a terrible injustice, considering the fact he was dealing with an out-of-control mental illness.
“He’s deeply embarrassed and ashamed of his conduct,” said Smelko.
The lawyer told Sherwood that, as a teen, Gee had lived in a cottage that became a flophouse and turned to hard drugs.
He and his fiance often lived by travelling to Mexico and Peru, purchasing jewelry and trinkets which were resold in the Turkey Point area. Gee ran a seasonal restaurant in Turkey Point for several summers.
But the trauma of his fiance’s death brought him to another psychotic episode when he was found running around naked in the woods of a small hamlet outside of Tillsonburg.
“He suffers from a significant mental illness,” said Smelko.
“Who runs around naked in a bush? Who enters another person’s home naked and attempts to burn a blanket? This is the bizarre behaviour of someone who is paranoid and psychotic.”
Smelko said his client has had an epiphany and come to terms with his illness and the need for medication.
“Two individuals have been traumatized but remember, he’s been traumatized too. He feels worse than whale dung for what’s he’s done to himself and to those two individuals.”
Sherwood expressed his appreciation for the improvements Gee has made in his life and acknowledged his remorse and shame.
“But sentencing involves both offenders and victims,” said the judge, “and the obligation of the court is to speak on behalf of the community.
“People who put themselves into such a condition that they act this way, people who violate the property of others, people who emotionally terrorize others have to realize there will be significant sanctions attached to that behaviour.”
Gee was sentenced to 15 months and five days in jail plus 75 days he’s already served.
He was ordered to repay the terrorized couple money they paid for an insurance appraisal on their quilt, submit a sample of his DNA to the national offenders databank and take counselling for substance abuse and psychiatric issues.
“You’ve come a long way in your rehabilitation,” Sherwood told Gee.
“You have potential you have not yet fully tapped and I hope you see your way through that to the future.”