An Indigenous artist was sent to jail by a judge who said he hopes counselling will help the man deal with his “demons.”
Earlier this month, Paul Kohoko, 47, stood again before Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward who, in 2017, had sentenced the man on his ninth robbery conviction, giving him a “lenient” stint of 90 days of weekend jail.
“It was a prove-it sentence,” said Edward.
“Prove it that you could stay sober. Prove it that you could be a good husband and father. Prove it that you could stay committed to your art. Prove it that you could stay on the good path.
“Sadly, Mr. Kohoko could not prove it.”
Instead, on Jan. 25, Kohoko went to Stormy’s Variety on Market Street and demanded money, while waving a knife at the male clerk. The clerk refused to co-operate and Kohoko fled to his vehicle, which was being driven by his wife.
Police identified Kohoko from surveillance video and spotted the couple in their vehicle. Both were arrested but charges against Kohoko’s wife were dropped in May.
During a sentencing circle held in the Indigenous Persons Court, Edward heard about the support Kohoko has, but noted his loved ones expressed frustration the man wasn’t dealing with his addiction issues while outside of jail.
“He’s not an incorrigible criminal,” said Edward. “He’s a man with an addiction who robs variety stores with a knife and that puts him in a very precarious position within the criminal justice system.”
Crown attorney Andrew Falls asked for a sentence of 18 months less the 10 months Kohoko got credit for having served. The defence requested 12 months less time served.
Edward decided both sentences would not provide the help that Kohoko needs. He noted that even an eight-month sentence would be just a jail cell without programming.
“I’m very concerned whether this is a sufficient punishment for this individual’s 10th robbery conviction. He needs treatment so I’m going to impose treatment on him.”
The judge sentenced Kohoko to 22 months, meaning a year in the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, where he can get into a proper counselling program for his addictions.
He also must maintain a two-year probation period once he’s out, during which he can’t go within 50 metres of Stormy’s Variety.
The judge also slapped a no-weapons order on the man for 10 years and ordered him to submit a DNA sample to the national offenders database.
“You’re not a bad person,” Edward told Kohoko.
“You’re an individual with an addiction issue and you do bad things. I hope this counselling component will assist you in dealing, finally, with your demons.”