A Vernon man with a history of serving time for uttering threats has been given a 60-day jail sentence for threatening to burn down the Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Trevor Stanley Luszcz pleaded guilty to one count of uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage and one count of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
Luszcz’s charges stem from an incident on Nov. 12, 2019, when he spent a night at the hospital due to drug use but was asked to leave the following day. He responded with an outburst that led to him threatening to “burn down the hospital.” When security was called Luszcz threatened to punch the security guard.
At the time of the incident in the hospital, the 34-year-old was already on probation for two recent convictions — one for assaulting a peace officer in April 2019 and one for uttering threats in November 2018. He spent a total of 180 days in jail for those convictions.
Luszcz appeared on a video from custody at the Vernon Law Courts Nov. 27 in a hearing that was at times confrontational. He told Judge Jeremy Guild he had nowhere to go other than safe injection sites or into custody.
“Our mental health system should be helping me, not throwing me in jail,” he said.
“I’m trying to recover and move on in my life. I’m working with mental health workers, I’m working with substance abuse workers, I’m trying.”
The hearing devolved into a lengthy, profanity-filled rant in which Luszcz told Judge Guild about his frustrated efforts to get clean.
“They need to come up with different situations for people when they get released, they can go to a clean and sober environment and stay clean. Not be put into a safe injection site,” Luszcz said.
Defence lawyer Tiffany Zanatta said Luszcz suffered from mental health issues and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and has been battling an addiction to crystal meth. Zanatta asked that her client be given a sentence of time served, which amounted to 23 days in jail.
Judge Guild asked Zanatta why there should be a decreased sentence in this case.
Zanatta reasoned that her client had entered a “very early guilty plea” and had shown some past success with addictions treatment. Luszcz himself said he’s not able to access support services while in custody.
Guild conceded that addictions treatment in our society is not without its flaws, interjecting at times during Luszcz’s rant to say that he made some “good points.” But ultimately, Guild could not overlook Luszcz’s record and suggested there were changes he could make for the better.
“Nothing in your probation order says you have to be in Vernon,” he told Luszcz, who had previously said he’s been able to stay out of trouble whenever he’s not in the city. “If you do better outside of Vernon, then that’s something you should look into.”
Guild added that refusing to co-operate with staff at the hospital disrupted care for people in a position similar to his.
“All they were trying to do was make it so that other people also people also had a chance to be in a hospital bed,” he said. “I’m sure all the nurses and doctors would love it if they could have many more beds and have everybody in a bed.”
Guild decided not to hand Luszcz a probationary condition that would prevent him from visiting the hospital, reasoning that he relies upon hospital services to treat his addiction and mental health.
Luszcz is credited with 23 days served from time he’s spent in custody for his current charges. After the 60-day sentence he has another 37 days to spend behind bars.