A relative newcomer to Kingston who ended up spending about five and a half months in custody after a series of over-the-top incidents that ended up involving local police and were represented in court as completely out of character has been placed on probation for two years and ordered to complete assessments, counselling and rehabilitative programs as directed by his probation officer, including the Partner Assault Response Program, anger management and counselling for any psychological issues he may have.
Justice Larry O’Brien, in sentencing 20-year-old Jacob Clarke, expressed concern over the lack of explanation for behaviour that resulted in a young man with no known record accumulating nine convictions in one pass. The judge observed that “clearly the rage is something that we don’t have an answer to at the moment.”
Clarke pleaded guilty in Kingston’s Ontario Court of Justice to assaulting a young woman in October and November last year; three incidents of mischief in which he intentionally smashed her cellphone, slashed one of her car tires and damaged the rear window of her car; two violations of a bail recognizance that required him to abide by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and forbid him having any contact with his victim; resisting arrest; and possession of knives under circumstances that made them weapons in his possession for a dangerous purpose.
He was given enhanced credit on 164 days of pretrial custody, which was deemed equivalent to about eight months of jail time, and was sentenced on a joint recommendation from defence and Crown counsel to time served and probation. Justice O’Brien ordered him additionally, while on probation, to pay $300 restitution to his victim through the court.
Assistant Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis told the judge that Clarke had only been dating the victim about two weeks and was visiting her home outside Kingston on Nov. 10 when they became embroiled in an argument. Clarke pushed the woman up against a wall, he said, threw her to the floor and put his hand over her mouth to prevent her crying out, but too late: the victim’s mother heard their scuffle, he said, and came to investigate in time to see Clarke throw her daughter’s cellphone down and smash it.
Laarhuis said Clarke then fled the house, followed by his victim. But outside he turned on the young woman again, the judge was told, displayed a knife and announced, “I could kill you,” before using it to slash one of the tires on her car and then running off into some nearby woods.
Police were called and, Laarhuis said, officers went in after him and ordered him out of the trees, noting that when he eventually emerged, he had a knife clipped to the outside of his pants pocket. The victim subsequently revealed that there had been earlier incidents in mid and late October, including one in which Clarke had become upset about her speaking to another male on the phone and pushed her.
Clarke was arrested, held overnight and released the following day on a recognizance of bail with a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and a condition forbidding him from communicating with his victim. Five days later, however, Laarhuis said he began sending the young woman messages from his grandmother’s home in Kingston, demanding that she come and retrieve some property she owned and he had in his possession: otherwise, he threatened, he’d destroy it.
Laarhuis said the victim and a group of three friends drove into Kingston, arriving at 1 a.m. on Nov. 17, and there was another verbal confrontation. The judge was told one of the young woman’s companions, another female, exchanged words with Clarke while she sat in the car with her feet and legs protruding through the open door. Laarhuis said Clarke told her “shut up b—-,” and kicked the bottom of the car door, pinching her legs.
She reacted, he said, by getting out of the car and approaching Clarke, who punched her in the face and torso, then smashed the rear window of the car, causing $300 damage before running back into the house and barricading himself inside against Kingston Police, who, it was later noted by Justice O’Brien, had to force a door to arrest him.
Clarke was released a second time, but six days later, on Nov. 23, Laarhuis said, Clarke’s initial victim contacted Kingston Police with a complaint that he’d been texting her all night in violation of his bail conditions.
While officers were talking to the young woman at an address near St. Lawrence College, however, Laarhuis said, they were notified of a disturbance at the home of Clarke’s grandmother about two blocks away. Police had received a report that Clarke had two large butcher knives, Justice O’Brien was told, and that he was out of control.
Minutes later, Laarhuis said, officers arrived on scene and found Clarke outside, standing next to a tree holding a pair of kitchen knives, blades pointing upward. He was told to drop them, but the judge was told officers ordered him twice, with guns drawn, before he complied.
Clarke’s lawyer, Dave Sinnett, told the judge his client has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship and was raised in North Carolina but crossed into Canada because he wasn’t happy with the current political climate south of the border.
He also suggested that the series of events that brought Clarke to court was out of character and defies explanation. Although he hasn’t known Clarke long, he told the judge, his client impressed him as being normally both pleasant and polite.
Sinnett noted as well, that Clarke has no prior criminal record and described him as “industrious,” having worked as a carpenter, window installer and cook. He said his client also has hopes of continuing his education in Canada.
“Sounds like drugs,” Justice O’Brien speculated.
“I don’t think it was,” Sinnett responded, although he observed that Clarke “managed to pack a lifetime of crazy into six weeks.”
Laarhuis was also at a loss for an explanation and told Justice O’Brien, “it’s really odd behaviour for someone who has no record we’re aware of,” and concerning, he added, because the trigger is a mystery.
He noted that Clarke’s victim came to suspect that he has mental health issues, however, and that he was self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana.