A high-risk sex offender has pleaded guilty in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax to seven charges of breaching the conditions of either a long-term supervision order or a peace bond.
John Francis Dionne, 53, has been in custody since July 26, 2020, when he was arrested in the company of another sex offender at a Tim Hortons shop on Akerley Drive in Dartmouth.
Both men were residing at Jamieson Community Correctional Centre, a nearby halfway house, at the time.
Halifax police had issued a high-risk notification about Dionne the previous February, when he was released from Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick after serving every single day of a prison sentence of seven years, five months and 11 days.
That sentence, imposed in Alberta provincial court in September 2012, was for abducting a 10-year-old girl from a Calgary store and impersonating a police officer.
Dionne was declared a dangerous offender at that sentencing hearing, but the judge accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers for a determinate sentence with 10 years of supervision in the community rather than an indeterminate sentence.
Prior to Dionne’s release from Dorchester, police obtained a peace bond against him in New Brunswick provincial court in Moncton.
On Friday, Dionne pleaded guilty to violating three different conditions of the long-term supervision order out of Alberta and four conditions of the Moncton peace bond.
He admitted breaching the peace bond by having a weapon, possessing a cellphone capable of accessing the internet, failing to immediately notify police he was subject to the peace bond, and entering into a relationship with a woman who has children under the age of 18 without identifying the person to police so they could inform her of his background.
Dionne breached the long-term supervision order by associating with someone involved in criminal activity, possessing pornography, and failing to immediately report all intimate relationships and friendships with females to his parole supervisor.
Crown attorney Rick Hartlen filed a statement of the facts surrounding the offences, as agreed to by Dionne and defence lawyer Drew Rogers.
The statement reveals a Halifax Regional Police officer saw Dionne seated at a table at the coffee shop with Christopher Samuel Terriak, who’s also been designated a dangerous offender. Dionne was observed showing Terriak something on a cellphone.
When police officers approached Dionne five minutes later, he did not produce a copy of the peace bond as required and was arrested.
The cellphone was found in Dionne’s right pants pocket. He provided his passcode to the arresting officers, who opened the phone and observed a photo of a woman with two young children.
Booking officers located a small contractor’s blade in the bottom of Dionne’s wallet. Dionne was neither working nor in his residence when he possessed the blade, which met the Criminal Code definition of a weapon.
A subsequent forensic search of the cellphone determined it had been connected to the internet at the Tim Hortons shop shortly before he was arrested.
A detective called a number for “Alice” that was on a receipt seized from Dionne. She told police she had first met Dionne outside a Dartmouth grocery store two weeks earlier. She said he later asked her to go out on a date but she told him she just wanted to be friends. She also said Dionne told her he had been in jail for getting into a fight with someone and biting their ear but had not advised her of any other criminal convictions.
The forensic search of the phone identified 22 contacts, including one for “Margaret.” Police determined Dionne had been in a romantic relationship with that woman, who had six children living with her.
There were pictures on the phone of Dionne and Margaret together, of Margaret with her two young daughters, of an unidentified woman and of Dionne by himself, There were also four text messages sent to Dionne by Margaret on the day of his arrest.
Dionne admitted making a series of phone calls to Margaret from the Dartmouth jail after his arrest. Police seized recordings of five of those calls from August 2020.
Investigators also found pornographic videos on Dionne’s phone and on a DVD that was among his belongings at the Jamieson centre.
When the case returns to court April 21, the Crown will ask Justice Darlene Jamieson to order another dangerous-offender assessment to see if Dionne meets the criteria for an indeterminate sentence. Hartlen said Dr. Grannie Neilson, a forensic psychiatrist, is prepared to conduct the assessment.
A Parole Board of Canada decision in 2019 said Dionne has multiple convictions for assault on his record, including three “of a sexual nature against young females” and one for assault causing bodily harm.
“At least one other sexual assault against a sex-trade worker was reduced to assault,” the decision said. “Extensive involvement with people in the trade is well documented.”
The decision said Dionne has repeatedly violated court orders and used alcohol and crack cocaine.
“It is clear that you have been preoccupied by sexual activity for many years,” the board said. “A 2011 psychiatric assessment referenced a personality disorder, sexual sadism, an extremely elevated score on the psychopathy checklist and did not rule out pedophilia.”
The decision said Dionne’s intellectual limitations are an impediment to breaking his offence pattern, and he made limited gains in high-intensity programming for sex offenders. “The risk of violence is assessed as being on the high end of moderate, and that of sexual offending extremely high.”