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'Menace to society' gets jail time

Prince George man gets 5.5 years in jail for possession of loaded, stolen firearm
Prince George courthouse. (via John Deacon, Courthouse Co.)

A Prince George man described as a “menace to society” by a Crown prosecutor was sentenced Monday to five-and-a-half years in jail.

Julien Naseem Abdala Yasin Lazarre, 23, and another man were arrested after fleeing on foot from police on Sept. 25, 2019. The officers had been in the 1400 block area of Carney Street investigating a theft from a motor vehicle around 8:30 a.m. that morning, when they spotted the two known offenders, according to information released by the Prince George RCMP at the time.

“(Lazare) was on his way through the backyard of a well-known drug house when he encountered police,” the Crown prosecutor told the court during his sentencing submissions.

Lazare and the other man fled into the alley and one of the officers pursuing him described thinking “he was going to get into a gunfight in that alley,” the Crown lawyer said, drawing on testimony made during the trial. Lazare had a “serious criminal history,” the prosecutor said, including violent offences involving weapons and a history of resisting arrest.

When Lazare was arrested, he had a rock of fentanyl/heroin mix, 33 tablets of ecstasy (also known as MDMA or molly) and $6,000 cash on him, as well as an empty pistol holster on his hip, the Crown told the court. A search by a police dog located a stolen, loaded pistol a short distance away from where Lazare was arrested.

The gun had a loaded magazine and a round in the chamber ready to fire, the Crown told the court. At the time of the offence, he had already twice been prohibited from possessing firearms as a result of previous convictions.

“He was clearly there, and had that gun, for a criminal purpose. He hid it in the alley to avoid criminal liability,” the Crown told the court. “I would suggest that Mr. Lazare is a tragedy in gestation. He is a menace to society. He is a danger to police (and) to people in the community, which includes other criminals but also bystanders.”

The Crown had been seeking a total of six years in jail for Lazare, while his lawyer argued for a sentence of four years and nine months.

Lazare’s father was murdered in front of him when he was 11 months old and he experienced a difficult childhood being raised by multiple members of his extended family on the Nak’azdli Whu’ten First Nation reserve near Fort St. James until he was 14 years old, Lazare’s lawyer said. Lazare had lost multiple family members to murder and suicide.

His mother, a survivor of the Indian day school system, suffered from addiction issues when he was a child, his lawyer said. In addition, Lazare identifies as black and suffered from racism both on and off reserve. His family was the poorest on the reservation and Lazare suffered from learning disabilities that resulted in him being held back in school and suffering further taunting and violence from his peers growing up, the lawyer said.

While in prison he was diagnosed with attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has been getting treatment for his mental health and addiction issues, his lawyer said.

He’d never held a job or had his own home, his lawyer said, and the last time he was released from jail he had no identification or any way to obtain the medications to treat his mental health problems.

Lazare has said he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in and out of jail, his lawyer said.

“Mr. Lazare, this time, has a plan,” he said.

His family have arranged for him to stay at a cabin owned by the family and help his brother operate a trapline, his lawyer said. In addition, his former girlfriend has offered to help him find a job where she works if he can get funding from the Nak’azdli government for trades training.

If Lazare were the dangerous offender suggested by the Crown, his lawyer said, he didn’t act like it on Sept. 25, 2019.

“He had every opportunity to use the gun, but he chose not to use it,” his lawyer said. “He chose to get rid of it.”

Lazare was found guilty of unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, possession of a firearm when prohibited, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, obstructing a police officer and for breaching the curfew of his release order while on bail. 

Judge Susan Mengering said she was unconvinced Lazare had a plan to get out of the criminal life and believed he continues to pose a danger to the public.

“The people in his life who love him have a plan,” Mengering said during the sentencing. “Illegal firearms have only one purpose, to kill people or threaten them. I agree he poses a considerable threat to the public today.”

Lazare had spent 674 days in prison prior to his sentencing, and was given 1,011 days credit for time served, leaving him 997 days remaining to serve, Mengering said. She also sentenced him to a lifetime firearms prohibition.