London teen who escaped Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre was denied bail twice
Justin Kunz (Police supplied photo)
London police have assured the public that escaped jail inmate Justin Kunz is not a danger to the community, but it appears the courts think otherwise.
Kunz, 19, had been trying to get out of the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre since December, but the courts said absolutely not to two bail applications.
The London teen remains on the lam after an inmate disguised himself as his cell partner and walked out of the beleaguered provincial jail this week.
Court documents show Kunz was denied bail in the Ontario Court of Justice Dec. 29, a month after he was arrested on drug and weapons charges, including possession of an AK-47 assault rifle.
His lawyer Craig McLean brought a bail review application to the Superior Court July 7, just two weeks ago.
Kunz was once again denied release by Justice Johanne Morissette. “Application denied,” is the only handwritten endorsement on the court file.
Though there’s a ban on publication of the details of the hearings, there are only three reasons under the law a person may be denied their liberty while facing charges — if they’re a flight risk, deemed to be a danger to the public or if their release would shake the confidence in the administration of justice.
During a bail hearing, the presiding judicial official detains an inmate based on the three reasons known as the primary, secondary and tertiary grounds.
An accused can be denied release on one, two or all three grounds.
London police were still searching Friday for Kunz, more than 48 hours after the inmate slipped away from EMDC.
Kunz was arrested in November and charged with firearm and drug offences after police found a loaded AK-47 rifle, 22 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, a loaded Colt .45 handgun and 35 rounds of ammunition.
Also found were pepper spray, 93 grams of cocaine worth $9,300 and $1,080 in a south London residence.
He’s also in custody for threat and mischief charges.
Although Kunz is accused of being in possession of an AK-47 assault rifle, police insisted Friday that they don’t consider him a serious threat to the public.
“He is not our number 1 target today. Despite that he’s facing serious charges, in looking at his history and past interactions, we are of the view that he is not a danger to the public,” said Det. Insp. Kevin Heslop, head of the investigations branch.
“We believe he is most likely lying low right now, he doesn’t want to get caught. We literally have hundreds of people with outstanding arrest warrants and we prioritize them based on threats to public safety. He’s a concern to us, but he’s not at the top of the list.”
Heslop said that’s why police haven’t warned the public to stay away from Kunz, as they often do when asking for help in locating violent suspects.
“I think doing it when we don’t feel it’s appropriate can fear monger and raise anxiety. . . . It can minimize the ones where we really do need public assistance,” said Heslop.
After being called about an inmate slipping out of jail, Heslop said police searched addresses Kunz has been known to frequent.
They say the inmate worked alone in planning his slip from jail, and neither his cell mate nor any other inmates helped. They Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is now doing its own investigation into why the guards were so easily fooled and what circumstances inside EMDC allowed the situation to unfold the way it did.
Calling it “evidence,” police refused to comment on how the inmate altered his appearance. They also declined to say what the inmate said to threaten his cell mate.
- Arrested on gun and drug charges, including possession of an AK-47 assault rifle, in November.
- Denied bail Dec. 29 in the Ontario Court of Justice.
- Denied bail again July 7 in the Superior Court of Justice.
- Subject of a police search after an inmate escaped the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on Wednesday by impersonating his cell mate.