A man with a criminal history spanning nearly 40 years has been declared a dangerous offender for the second time —only this time, 56-year-old John Francis Norman Dionne is being locked up indefinitely.
In a decision released Tuesday, Justice Darlene Jamieson of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court said there was no way the risk Dionne poses could be safely managed in the community.
"I am of the view that Mr. Dionne continues to pose a substantial risk of future violence," Jamieson wrote in her decision.
"I find that Mr. Dionne's risk to reoffend violently, to commit a serious personal injury offence, is significant."
Dionne was first declared a dangerous offender in 2012 in Alberta, where he was convicted for kidnapping a 10-year-old girl and impersonating a police officer. That conviction carried a nine-year prison term, followed by a long-term supervision order — a period when Dionne would be under close supervision in the community.
But Dionne's criminal history began in 1985 in Saint John, N.B., where he was convicted of assault and given a suspended sentence and probation. He would continue to rack up charges in New Brunswick until the year 2000. The following year, he surfaced in Alberta, where he continued to commit offences culminating in the kidnapping. He has more than 40 convictions in all, including a sexual assault.
Dionne was released to the Halifax area in 2020 to serve out the long-term supervision portion of his dangerous offender sentence. At the time, Halifax Regional Police warned that he was a high risk to reoffend.
Just months after his release, Dionne was arrested and charged with breaching his conditions. Dionne had started relationships with two women without informing his parole supervisors. He was also found with a blade in his wallet and a cellphone that could connect to the internet — two other breaches.
He has spent more than three years in custody while these charges make their way through the courts.
To help her make her decision, Jamieson had an assessment by Halifax forensic psychiatrist Dr. Grainne Neilson, whose views echoed those of previous psychiatric and psychological assessments Dionne has been subjected to over the years.
"Mr. Dionne's overall risk of violence over the long term (which includes general violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence) is in the very high or 'well above average' range," Neilson wrote.
"He is at particular risk of sexual and intimate partner violence, although he is also at risk of general violence against persons and property. With Mr. Dionne's history it is easily seen that he represents a serious and alarming risk for violence."
The judge also heard from Dionne himself who gave several days of testimony. He claimed not to remember details of some of the events around his previous convictions and disputed some of the assessments that have been made about him.
Jamieson said Dionne's testimony "lacked credibility."
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