Child abductor spins tale of woe behind bars as Crown calls for 10-year sentence | #childabductors


Lawrence Thompson hadn’t uttered a peep at the trial where he was convicted of kidnapping a little girl off her neighbourhood street.

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Lawrence Thompson hadn’t uttered a peep at the trial where he was convicted of kidnapping a little girl off her neighbourhood street.

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But he had plenty to say Wednesday at his day-long sentencing hearing about how he’s been a target of assaults, a sexual assault, threats and abuse in jail, that he learned the hard way what a “rat” was and that all he was trying to do on Mother’s Day 2018 was help a little, lost girl find her way home.

The 69-year-old former school janitor, convicted of child abduction, kidnapping, sexual assault and sexual interference, kissed the Bible before taking his oath to tell the truth. His long grey beard and moustache spilled out from under his blue facemask and his stringy hair was pulled into a ponytail.

He gave a long, rambling description of supposed jailhouse justice meted out to him on a regular basis. He told Superior Court Justice Alissa Mitchell he usually had to sleep on the floor in overcrowded cells, that he has been transferred several times and has been housed in six different jails since his arrest after fellow inmates found out who he was.

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“When I tried to explain what happened, that she was lost, trying to get her home, they didn’t believe that,” he said.

Thompson was convicted in February after the court heard the harrowing story of the broad daylight abduction of a four-year-old girl from a street corner in northeast London. Fast thinking by a couple on the way to church who saw the girl carried into the car led Thompson to return the girl to the neighbourhood and drive away.

But, not until after he had pulled her onto his lap while he was driving and pulled down her pants.

His testimony Wednesday set up a pitch from Lakin Afolabi, Thompson’s defence lawyer, for a six-year sentence, to be converted to time served when factoring in his 1,247 days in pre-sentence custody and the hardships he said he endured.

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Thompson described an assault that left him dazed and for which he ended up pressing charges. He was emotional when describing how other inmates threw water and urine on him, squeezed toothpaste on him, hit him, pinched him, stole his food and mattress and threatened to slit his throat.

He coped, he said, by finding religion and reading the Bible. He said some of the inmates nicknamed him Moses. He learned the unwritten rules of the range, about “courtesy flushes” and to not reach for someone else’s food.

Some of Thompson’s account was refuted by jail records reviewed in court by senior officials working in London and Windsor. Only one assault complaint was filed by Thompson in London and the extent of overcrowding was exaggerated.

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But Afolabi pointed out Thompson, who is married and has one child, had no criminal record and this was his first time in custody. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer before his arrest and needed hernia surgery.

The conditions in jail were difficult, he said. Mitchell said she would take judicial notice that jail “is not a nice place to live.”

Afolabi argued the sentence should be six to eight years before any credits, because it was “a lesser sexual assault” and “a very small kidnapping,” referencing the brief duration of the event.

The case was “sensationalized from the very beginning” by the media, he said. “This is the reason we have courts and not vigilante mobs.

“This is a case where we need to look at the principles and need to look at the facts. We need to look at the efforts that Mr. Thompson has put forth…. There are cases that are way worse,” Afolabi said.

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Assistant Crown attorney Kristina Mildred asked for a 10-year prison sentence, calling what happened to the girl, “a parent’s worst nightmare” and saying Thompson was “danger to the community.”

In his pre-sentence report, Thompson downplayed what he did and “said he didn’t realize he would get into so much trouble for putting a kid in the car,” Mildred said.

There is a pattern. She said the pre-sentence report noted Thompson indicated he had retired from his job. Then, he admitted he was fired after a child welfare investigation.

He was reprimanded several times “due to inappropriate conduct with students.” His personnel records said he had trouble with “impulse control and boundaries.” He repeated the behaviour after warnings and “ultimately justified the behaviour and contact with them by indicating he is helping these children.”

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The child and her family have suffered long-term trauma. They had to move, the children are fearful of men, the girl has nightmares and the family keeps an eye out for long-term repercussions.

Mildred said the girl is “very brave,” but said her family said she lost “her sparkle.”

“She shouldn’t have to work to get her sparkle back. She shouldn’t have lost it in the first place,” Mildred said.

Mitchell asked Thompson if he had more to say before reserving her decision. “I’m really sorry for what happened,” Thompson said.” I made a big mistake and it will be with me for the rest of my life.

“I didn’t realize it was this bad doing what I did and I guess it is. It’s a mistake now. I’ll never do this again. Trust me.”

Mitchell returns with her decision on Dec. 20.

jsims@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JaneatLFPress

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