~Warning: This story contains graphic information that might be sensitive to some readers. ~
A Kelowna man was sentenced to four months in prison, followed by 12 months of probation, after pleading guilty on Friday, July 31 to committing an indecent act.
Joseph Perkins, 37, was arrested on Jan. 22 after police received reports of a man who had his pants around his knees as he masturbated outside of the intersection of Harvey Avenue and Gordon Drive.
“(Perkins) was trying to make eye contact with drivers as they drove by. There were no pedestrians around,” said Crown counsel Mallory Treddenick.
Perkins was located and apprehended shortly afterwards at the Capri Centre Mall, where he made lewd remarks towards the officer after he was taken into custody, according to Treddenick.
Perkins was charged for a similar offence in February 2017 and for which he was sentenced to six months in prison for exposing his genitals to people under 16. He is still on probation for this offence, which expires in February 2021.
“He entered an aquatic centre, he was in a family change room and he was masturbating in the direction of small children — small females and an infant boy,” said Treddenick.
Given his history and his inability to engage in rehabilitation programming as advised by his probation officer for his 2017 offence, Treddenick proposed that Perkins serve four months in prison and another probation term so that he undergoes more rehabilitation.
“Probation was equally conflicted … but ultimately, that was the decision out of importance to the public. They characterized Mr. Perkins as an untreated sex offender,” she said.
While defence lawyer Tiffany Zanatta agreed that a four-month sentence was appropriate, she objected to the notion that Perkins serve another probation term.
“I understand the crown’s concerns and probation’s concerns. However, should he be put on to another probation order, he’s likely to spend a chunk of that time in custody, because of his circumstances and his difficulties with reporting due to his lifestyle and lack of support,” said Zanatta.
She revealed that Perkins — who came to Kelowna 12 years ago from Lindsay, Ont. — has been living “on the fringes of society” for the past four years.
“He’s been of no fixed address, he occasionally works at orchards. He doesn’t have a cell phone,” she said.
Perkins’s struggles with probation orders, she continued, is largely a result of his struggles with mental health and his living circumstances.
“It’s not that he’s not willing to participate in the programming — its that he faces significant struggles making appointments, dates,” she said.
Judge Andrew Tam ultimately decided to extend Perkins’s probation period to 12 months, which will begin following the completion of his sentence.
“In my view … probation is required in order to meet the objectives of rehabilitation as well as protection of the public,” said Tam.
Perkins has just over two months remaining on his four-month sentence due to enhanced credit for time already served.
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