James Bolan, Jarrett Jocko and Gilbert Ryan Wilson have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on a victim described as a ‘drug addict’
Three years ago, three local men were sentenced to the penitentiary for a “horrific” revenge attack on a drug officer – violence that the judge described as “vigilante justice”.
The trio’s actions on the morning of May 16, 2019 were planned and premeditated,
Superior Court Judge Edward Gareau said Wednesday when he imposed the jail terms.
The victim, Donald Laroue, was badly beaten and ‘essentially left for dead’ in the attack which happened at a flat in James Street.
His injuries were “serious, extensive and long-lasting”, noted the judge.
What the three attackers did to the victim, who was not well liked, was “premeditated violence fueled by vigilantism and a desire for revenge,” Gareau said.
James Bolan, Jarrett Jocko and Gilbert Ryan Wilson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and entering a dwelling with intent to commit an indictable offense on March 30, 2021.
Sentencing has been postponed several times due to COVID-19 difficulties and to allow for the preparation of pre-sentence and Gladue reports.
Bolan, 32, Jocko, 37, and Wilson, 32, were each sentenced to seven years in prison, less the time they served in pretrial detention, for the aggravated assault, and one year concurrent for the second offence.
With the credit, Bolan still has 3.5 years to serve, while Jocko and Wilson each face 2.4 more years behind bars.
Court heard that city police responded to a call for an injured person at an apartment (above Al’s Corner Pub) at 196 James St. around 10 a.m. that May morning.
Officers found Laroue, seriously injured in the head and body, in Apt. 2.
He was unconscious and was taken to Sault Area Hospital in critical condition.
Laroue suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack and was transferred to Subey for treatment.
During their investigation, police obtained CCTV, recorded by six cameras located throughout the building, including from the hallway outside the apartment where the assault occurred.
The footage provided “a clear, uninterrupted view of the preparation and aftermath of the assaults,” but did not capture the attack, Gareau noted in his written sentencing decision.
He captured Laroue entering the apartment at 7:25 a.m. with two other people who did not witness the attack.
At 7:47 a.m., the three accused, who were armed, approached the apartment.
Wilson carried a baseball bat, Bolan had a crowbar or tire iron, and Jocko a metal tool.
Bolan and Wilson wore “bunny suits” (white jumpsuits), while Jocko was in street clothes.
They entered the apartment at 7:48 a.m., the attack happened, and they came out about a minute later.
When they left the building at 7:51 a.m., Wilson and Bolan appeared to be wearing the suit.
Jocko gave an incriminating statement to police describing what happened, but did not identify any other perpetrators.
He said he hit Laroue twice with a metal poker – hitting him in the back of the shoulder and leg.
The accused indicated that he had not given the first blow and confirmed that someone had struck the victim in the head.
Jocko said he participated in the assault for “revenge” because Laroue “bullied a lot of people” and had beaten someone in his home two weeks earlier.
Other people who were in the building at the time also provided statements.
The court heard that Laroue did not recall the altercation. He indicated that he knew Bolan and Wilson but did not know why they wanted to attack him.
Gareau said the offences, which involved extreme violence and had a significant impact on the health and well-being of the victim, meant that denunciation and deterrence were the primary goals of sentencing.
“It is obvious that the victim was not well liked and took advantage of vulnerable drug addicts,” the judge said, describing Laroue as “a drug agent who undoubtedly preyed on people”.
While all of this may be true, it doesn’t provide an excuse for the three men “to extract justice from the vigilantes or to take justice into their own hands,” Gareau said.
He noted the offenders’ remorse and guilty pleas as mitigating factors, but said this had to be weighed against the aggravating factor of the vigilant nature of the acts.
“Individuals cannot take justice into their own hands to mete out justice and punishment as they see fit,” Gareau wrote.
“A safe society cannot function like this and the vigilante nature of this offense must be denounced in the clearest possible terms.”
Bolan has an extensive criminal record for non-violent offenses and although Wilson has numerous convictions, he does not have a history of violent acts.
Jacko’s record reflects acts of violence, including assault with a weapon and sexual assault.
Gareau ordered the trio to provide samples for the national DNA database and also imposed lifetime weapons bans.