A young man from Kinngait who fired a rifle into the municipality’s recreation office while seeking vengeance has been given a four-year term in prison.

Harry Josephee was 18 when he committed the offences in July 2018.

The recreation office in Kinngait was under fire on July 18, 2018 by a young man who had broken into the recreation office earlier in the day. He felt humiliated after being physically assaulted in the street following his initial crimes. 
NNSL file photo

He and another person broke into the recreation office on July 18, 2018 and took a number of items, including a .223 rifle. However, a security camera recorded the crime and a hamlet employee went to Josephee’s house the next day and asked for the rifle back.

Josephee handed it over.

Later in the day, the recreation director confronted Josephee in the street after noticing the young man wearing sneakers stolen from the recreation office. The angered recreation director grabbed Josephee by the throat and demanded the sneakers back, according to the court. Josephee almost lost consciousness. The sneakers were returned and Josephee was left in the street with just stockings on his feet.

Less than an hour later, the recreation director was back in his office when he heard loud bangs. He realized it was gun shots and “bullets were entering the office from various locations,” the court record states. The recreation director lied down on the floor to take cover.

All of the RCMP in Kinngait responded. They saw Josephee with a rifle nearby the recreation office. They ordered him to drop the weapon and he complied. Then he put his hands over his head and was arrested. Other items on the ground around him included a machete, rifle cartridges and casings and two boxes of ammunition.

The police determined that Josephee took the rifle from his uncle’s residence.

The offender was released on conditions three times. All three times he violated the terms of his release and was consequently arrested again and again. As a result, he had been kept in custody since Oct. 3, 2019.

The Crown prosecutor sought a sentence of five years for Josephee.

The defence argued that the jail time should not exceed two years.

Josephee’s background reflects some hardships. He was raised primarily by his grandparents and the family suffered from homelessness and food insecurity. He lost two uncles and two friends to suicide.

“In the time leading up to the (firearms) incident Harry was struggling. He was homeless. He was often hungry,” the court decision states. “He was still very young but was trying to deal with the responsibilities of adulthood. He was not able to cope; he simply did not have the resources, maturity, or skills to address the multitude of issues he was faced with.”

The break and enter into the recreation office was the first time he was known to have committed a crime.

“The confrontation with the recreation director seemed to have triggered something in Harry. The humiliation of being manhandled and left in the street in his stocking feet provoked an extreme response,” the court decision reads.

Serving his remand time at the Rankin Inlet healing facility, Josephee’s case worker described him as a “good inmate” who has de-escalated conflicts and he worked on the grounds crew. The money he earned there was used for his own basic needs and to support his grandmother. He aspires to become a carpenter and work for the hamlet.

Based on credit for the time he served in jail while awaiting the outcome of his court proceedings, Josephee will have a little under two years left to serve. He will be prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years.

“There is good reason to be hopeful for Harry’s future. His history of being able to succeed despite difficult circumstances coupled with his apparent progress while in custody bode well for his future,” stated Justice Susan Cooper, who sentenced Josephee for deliberately discharging a firearm, break and enter and breaches of court conditions.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...