Former Alberta, Canada, prisoner Jeremiah McLellan was sentenced as an
adult at age 16 for a 1995 robbery that resulted in two deaths. In 2000 he
was transferred to Bowden medium security federal prison where he was
beaten by a prisoner leaving him legally blind. In a 2005 decision, the
government had to pay him $728,000 in damages for negligent supervision.
In 1995 McLellan and then 15 year old Jonathon Duffy robbed cab driver
Trevor O'Dell. Duffy shot O'Dell in the head causing them to crash into
another car, killing Alexia Lema. The two fled and were arrested three days
later. In a plea bargain, McLellan, initially charged with first degree
murder in 0'Dell's death and second degree murder in Lema's death, received
six years for manslaughter. In 2000 he was transferred to Bowden. While
unsupervised in a shop, James Rogers, a 46 year old prisoner serving a life
sentence for murder, beat McLellan leaving him blind in one eye and 80
percent blind in the other. Regular shop guard Dennis Browness was at his
son's hockey game. He was known to leave the shop unattended for up to 90
minutes at a time. His boss was left without knowledge of the constant
tension between the two prisoners.
Alberta Judge Doreen Sulyma set the compensation amount at $728,000 and
stated "he is, for all intents and purposes, legally blind," and took into
account his age and loss of future earnings. In light of newly released
federal public accounts listing $155 million in settlements and court
awarded payments from federal coffers, the award was by far the largest
single settlement from the Public Safety Department which oversees the
prison. Graham Stewart, the executive director of the prisoner advocacy
group The John Howard Society, said he hopes the ruling will remind prison
officials they have a duty to properly protect inmates, and stated putting
a young person in the adult system is really the worst possible environment.
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