Jail attack video involving B.J. Marriott shown during dangerous offender hearing

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia prosecutors played video evidence Wednesday showing the alleged leader of a jailhouse beating participating in other incidents of jail violence.

Video from November 2021 shows Brian James Marriott standing in front of corrections officers, his arms spread wide, as they attempt to get past him to enter a cell at the Cape Breton Correctional Facility to stop an attack on an inmate.

Other images from that jail in January 2022 show Marriott throwing a series of punches at an inmate after an argument on the maximum security range.

Prosecutors are asking Nova Scotia Supreme Court to designate Marriott a dangerous offender following his conviction in the 2019 assault of fellow inmate Stephen Anderson at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Halifax. In that beating, a group of 15 inmates blocked corrections officials from rescuing Anderson.

The latest videos were shown while Ian Walker, deputy superintendent of the Cape Breton facility, was on the witness stand.

Prosecutor Scott Morrison read from a report on the Jan. 25, 2022, altercation, which said Marriott had told the inmate to arrange a move off the maximum security range to the "protective custody unit," but the inmate refused to request the transfer. Walker confirmed that the report on Marriott's behaviour said he had no remorse about his actions after the fight.

Nathan Gorham, Marriott's lawyer, asked Walker if it was fair to say that inmates sometimes fight and then live together peacefully, and the deputy superintendent replied, "It happens from time to time."

Walker acknowledged that he has seen a lot of fist fights over his 23-year career and that they can occur when a group of inmates decide to "bounce" an unpopular new arrival from their unit. Walker also agreed that sometimes two inmates agree to settle a dispute by fighting.

Gorham also had Walker confirm that sometimes the attacks and fights occur when a new inmate has a record of sexual offences or may have previously co-operated with police.

On Tuesday, Walker testified about a third incident involving Marriott at the Sydney facility on Jan. 23, 2020, less than two months after the attack on Anderson in the Halifax jail.

Morrison read from a correctional officer's report about a "physical altercation" that took place after Marriott and another offender entered an inmate's cell. When officers responded, they found the inmate had a cut and swelling above his eye. Walker testified they had to move the injured inmate to a different area.

To have Marriott declared a dangerous offender, the Crown must show "a pattern of persistent aggressive behaviour by the offender," and that the crimes are of such a "brutal nature" that the offender is unlikely to "be inhibited by the normal standards of behavioural restraint."

If declared a dangerous offender, Marriott could receive a sentence with added conditions, or an indeterminate sentence where his release has to be approved by the National Parole Board.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2023.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press