CALGARY – A criminal defence lawyer who has raised concerns in the past about safety at a Calgary jail says people shouldn’t be happy that a convicted murderer in a high-profile case was beaten there.
“Convicted or not, he’s entitled to protection and basic human rights. Even if he didn’t show that to his victims,” said Balfour Der, who added some of his own clients have also been attacked at the jail and at other facilities.
Douglas Garland was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O’Brien in 2014.
Hours after the sentencing, Calgary police said a 57-year-old inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital after being assaulted by several other inmates. Garland’s lawyer, Kim Ross, has confirmed it was his client.
Some of the reaction on social media cheered on the attack, saying Garland deserved it.
Police are still investigating.
“If there’s members of the public who think, yeah, that’s good, I’m glad this happened, or whatever they may think about it, they are absolutely, totally wrong,” Der said in an interview Sunday.
“It’s not what we should ever expect should happen in a Canadian jail.”
In September, Alvin Clifford Chiniquay, 40, died in hospital two weeks after a beating at the facility. An inmate has been charged with first-degree murder in the death.
Ross said Saturday that Garland was being held in an area that should have been safe and called the attack “disappointing,” noting that Garland had been in custody for over two years awaiting trial without an incident.
He said he believed Garland’s injuries were not serious.
Dan Laville, a spokesman for Alberta’s justice and solicitor general ministry, wouldn’t release the specific details of Garland’s custody at the facility, citing privacy concerns.
But Laville said that generally, placement decisions include an assessment that considers security needs and also involves collaboration with health professionals.
Laville said inmates go through a process to ensure those who are known to be incompatible are kept separate.
“Correctional centres can be a difficult, sometimes volatile environment, and correctional peace officers are trained professionals who both try to anticipate and prevent incidents when possible, and who react quickly and appropriately when an incident occurs,” Laville said in an email.
Der said he understands that protective custody at the Calgary Remand Centre means an inmate is kept in a cell 23 hours a day.
He said it would be natural to have Garland in protective custody because the case involved a child, two other victims and the gruesome details of the case has been in the news for weeks.
The trial was told Garland held a petty grudge against Alvin Liknes over a business dealing they had.
Justice David Gates said during sentencing that Garland carried out the murders with meticulous planning and precision, attacking them in their home, then took them to his farm, where he killed and dismembered them, burning their remains.
“He would be an obvious target for violence from other inmates. You would think and you would hope that authorities would do everything they could to give that man some protection while he’s in custody,” Der said.
Ross said a decision hasn’t been made yet on whether Garland will file an appeal.