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Crown reverses “banishment” sentence on Nelson man

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Eighteen hours before a Nelson man was to leave the city for 18 months on a court-imposed banishment order his sentence was overturned by the same court.

Mikael Arrak, 26, was convicted of criminal harassment and ordered by a judge in Nelson Monday to leave the city, his mother Annely Arrak told The Nelson Daily.

But two days after delivering the sentence Judge Ronald Fabbro dissolved the order after hearing from Arrak's family and support workers in court late Wednesday.

Crown counsel said the order was delivered under the impression Arrak lived in Vancouver, but, after hearing from a mental health worker and a probation officer, they realized he had no support in Vancouver and needed to stay in Nelson.

Mikael has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but the medical profession did not “really know what is going on” with her son, Annely had said. Last year a psychiatrist admitted to Annely the system had failed her son and it was not his fault, and they did not know how to help him.

On Wednesday the court also admitted the justice system was "ill equipped" to deal with mental health issues.

“He won’t be sent to Vancouver because they realize now that is not the way to deal with somebody, throwing them on the streets of another town and letting them fend for themselves,” she said after the sentence was reversed, echoing her comments from Wednesday.

Along with her other son, Annely said the judge may have re-considered in light of the fact the son of an Estonian immigrant only had two people in his life he could depend on.

“We’ve been the ones with him trying to deal with this over all of these years, trying to support and to help Mikael,” she said.

The judge Monday found Mikael guilty after speaking to the mother of his ex-girlfriend on the street. According to the CBC, he had previously been convicted of harassment and ordered not to speak with his former girlfriend or her family.

The jobless and penniless Mikael was ordered by the judge to leave the city by noon on Thursday, Jan. 13 and to not return until his probation period ended in 18 months. Annely said neither Mikael nor his lawyer, Kenyon McGee, argued against the banishment order.