Alleged leader of N.S. jail beating involved in blood soaked prison attack in 2004

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The alleged ringleader of a Nova Scotia jail beating in 2019 took part in a bloody stabbing attack on inmates at a Quebec prison 15 years prior, a witness testified Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Philippe Blondin, a veteran correctional officer at the high-security federal prison in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., said the 2004 assault involving Brian James Marriott was “the worst scene I’ve seen in 23 years.”

Nova Scotia prosecutors are attempting to have Marriott declared a dangerous offender, as a result of his role in a more recent attack at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, in Dartmouth, N.S., on Dec. 2, 2019. Marriott pleaded guilty in February to aggravated assault in connection with the beating and stabbing of inmate Stephen Anderson.

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Prosecutors allege Marriott led the 2019 attack against Anderson. The case shocked the public after it became clear some of the inmates involved had formed a wall that slowed correctional officers from responding.

On Monday, prosecutors called Blondin to the witness stand to help convince Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Jamie Campbell that Marriott meets the Criminal Code standards of a dangerous offender.
Prosecutor Rick Woodburn tried to demonstrate that Marriott has repeatedly shown himself unable to restrain his violence.

If found to be a dangerous offender, Marriott could receive a sentence with added conditions, or receive an indeterminate sentence under which his release would have to be approved by the National Parole Board.

Blondin told the court about Marriott’s role in a Feb. 28, 2004, assault in the common room of the Quebec prison, when he said he saw four attackers stabbing three unarmed inmates in a scene of “carnage.” Marriott was among the attackers, repeatedly stabbing another inmate with a homemade knife, referred to as a “shank,” Blondin, who testified in French, told a translator.

“Something I remember seeing was inmate Marriott would give two or three blows, stop, and then do it again, and he did this about four times,” Blondin said.

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Blondin said he believes that Marriott would occasionally look around in between blows to see if any corrections officers had appeared on a raised walkway that ran through the common area.

The violence was so bad that all three victims had to be taken to hospital for treatment, the officer recalled. He estimated that Marriott had stabbed the inmate about 10 times.

“(There was) lots of blood and even footsteps imprinted in the blood,” Blondin told the court.

Marriott’s lawyer, Nathan Gorham, asked why Blondin hadn’t noted in his original report that Marriott had looked up between blows, or that he had inflicted 10 stab wounds on the inmate.

“It was a lack of experience,” replied Blondin. “I was more into taking care of the victims than the aggressors.”

Earlier on Monday, the Crown questioned Nathalie Mintsa, the acting programs manager at the Atlantic Institution, a prison in Renous, N.B., about Marriott’s unwillingness to take part in counselling at the federal prison. Mintsa said Marriott refused to attend programming when he came to the Atlantic Institution in June 2018, as he was expecting to be released in October that year.

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However, Gorham told the court that he has issues with the admissibility of some of the Crown documents used during Mintsa’s testimony. Campbell replied that later in the proceedings he may hear arguments from the defence on how the evidence could be used.

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Campbell stated in an earlier hearing that Marriott has been involved with the criminal justice system from the age of 13 and that from the age of 20 has been incarcerated in various federal prisons.

The Crown has alleged that Marriott set off the 2019 Nova Scotia jailhouse violence, which involved 14 other inmates. Prosecutors applied to have him declared a dangerous offender on April 25.

The dangerous offender hearing is scheduled to run until Jan. 27.

The Crown is expected on Tuesday to call more witnesses who will describe incidents of violence involving Marriott.

Campbell has found 12 inmates guilty of aggravated assault and one guilty of obstructing correctional officers in the 2019 jail attack, saying there was substantial evidence the assault was planned by prisoners.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2023.



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