(THUNDER BAY, ON) – On March 29th, 2018 around 11:08 am, 53 south Cumberland had a visit from the Guns and Gangs Unit of the Thunder Bay Police Service. They raided the apartment via a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act warrant.
Police had received information through the intelligence unit that two Toronto area people were trafficking cocaine.
A then 20-year-old male Monroe Blackwood and a then 21-year-old female Denny Habtom from Toronto were arrested without incident. A loaded semi-automatic handgun and a sawed-off shotgun with ammunition were seized.
Police seized a sawed-off shotgun, loaded semi-automatic handgun, and ammunition. Cocaine and crack were also confiscated at an estimated worth of $4000, along with $7000 in cold hard cash.
Both suspects are facing numerous drugs and firearms offences and were been detained in custody at the time. Denny Habtom would go on to never seek a bail hearing.
On Monday, December 16th, 2019, 22-year-old Monroe Robert Blackwood appeared in courtroom 205 along with his Toronto-area lawyer Benjamin Moss. The duo were flanked by local Crown Attorney Trevor Jukes and a Superior Court Justice was presiding over the matter. Blackwood is here today to plead guilty to the single charge of possession of a prohibited firearm.
About a year ago, his co-accused, Denny Habtom, a woman from Toronto, plead guilty to most of these charges.
Upon police entering the residence during the raid of 53 Cumberland Street South, police announced their presence and located Monroe Blackwood laying down in a bed. Shortly after that, Denny Habtom was located in the bathroom
During the police search of the residence, a loaded semi-automatic .45 calibre handgun was located in a top dresser drawer in the same room where Blackwood was located, the firearm being only a few feet away from him at the time of his arrest. A further search of that bedroom located a sawed-off shotgun was located with 11 rounds of ammunition in the closet.
In the same area of the closet, police located 170 live rounds of .22 calibre rimfire ammunition.
None of the firearms were locked or stored in a safe manner. The handgun was easily accessible. The shotgun’s serial number was ground off and was unreadable.
A further search of the dresser in the same bedroom revealed 3 separate bundles of currency. The total value of the cash was just over $7000. Police also located 5.5 grams of hard (crack cocaine) and 2 bundles of soft (cocaine), one bundle weighing 15.1 grams and 7.4 grams. The drugs and cash were located in the bottom drawer of the dresser that had the gun.
A digital scale was located in the living room, which had a white cocaine-like residue. Besides the scale were several clear plastic sandwich bags, a Greyhound travel receipt and 5 cell phones.
Police estimated the street value of the drugs to be $3900.
During the course of the arrest, Habtom indicated that she recently moved to Thunder Bay from Toronto, Ontario. She also said that she was not employed or attending school in Thunder Bay.
Habtom does not and did not have a license to possess these firearms.
The Crown is pushing for a global sentence of 1095 days of custody. Blackwood has served 628 real days which is almost automatically enhanced to 942 days due to the conditions at the Thunder Bay District Jail. This would leave Blackwood with 153 days going forward. Further, the Crown wants a 10 year gun ban and for Blackwood to submit his DNA to the national DNA database. Jukes tells the court that Blackwood is already on the DNA database, but that officers could confirm that and then choose whether to take another sample.
Moss paints a picture of Blackwood’s time at the Thunder Bay District Jail as appalling. He says that Blackwood spent 628 real days in jail and that it should be enhanced by 1.5x due to the deplorable conditions. His submission claims that Blackwood should be credited beyond the standard 1.5x for his time at the district jail due to how brutal the conditions were. Court hears that Blackwood spent 39% of his time at the district jail basically on lockdown due to how understaffed the facility was. He says that all it takes was for one guard to call in sick and that would throw the facility into a “lockdown” due to the lack of staff.
Further, Moss says that the facility was originally designed to have one prisoner in each cell. It was later updated to have bunk beds in each cell, doubling its capacity. For most of Blackwood’s time at the facility, they had 3 people to a cell by having a mattress on the floor. Prisoners would have to step over the person that was sleeping on the floor.
Blackwood has no record of employment and only a grade 9 education.
Moss is asking the court to consider sentencing Blackwood to time served plus one day. The Crown wants Blackwood to serve 153 more days behind bars.
The Justice (Judge) sentences Blackwood to time served plus 1 day, meaning he gets out today. Further, she tells the court that she is satisfied that this sentence sufficiently denounces and deters future offenders as well as Blackwood. “Guns have become a scourge on our community that will not be tolerated and will be dealt with accordingly,” the Justice tells the court. The Judge tells the court that she is mindful of the conditions that Blackwood had to endure at the jail. Blackwoods sister was in the courtroom today showing support. The Judge says that Blackwood has his family showing immense support and that “If your sister was not sitting in the courtroom today the results may have been significantly different.”.
Court heard that Blackwood plans to head back to Toronto after being released.
All other charges are withdrawn.
A year ago, Denny Habtom took the fall for most of these charges and was sentenced to 4 years in jail. She had no criminal record and appeared to just be hanging out in the apartment.
Read our report on Denny Habtoms guilty pleas at the link below.
(THUNDER BAY, ON) - On March 29th, 2018 around 11:08 am, 53 south Cumberland had a visit from the Guns and Gangs unit of the Thunder Bay Police Service. They raided the apartment via a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act warrant. Police had received information through the intelligence unit that two Toronto…