A violent offender described as a street thug with 39 prior convictions was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a B.C. Supreme Court judge declared him a dangerous offender.
Justin Norris, 38, will be approaching 60 years of age by the time he completes a 10-year long-term sentence order that follows his time in a federal penitentiary.
Justice Ian Meiklem described his decision, rendered Tuesday, as "very difficult."
However, the judge ruled that Norris should at least undergo some treatment for his substance abuse to attempt rehabilitation, a consideration that led him to impose a determinate rather than indeterminate sentence.
Norris himself described his latest offence as heinous, despicable and cowardly, the judge noted.
The circumstances provoking his knife attack on three acquaintances in a Merritt apartment on Dec. 27, 2009, remained unclear even in court. Norris stabbed the victims several times after abruptly entering the apartment.
Norris, who has a 20-year history of drug and alcohol problems along with drug trafficking, agreed that his actions were senseless and said he blacked out. He said he pleaded guilty so that the women he assaulted wouldn't have to testify in court.
"Mr. Norris acknowledged his behaviour had endangered their lives," Justice Meiklem said.
Yet the judge also called attention to past inconsistencies in Norris' actions, when he expressed remorse and a desire to change, only to lapse back into crime.
The man's criminal record was a determining factor in his sentencing given that he has repeatedly defied rehabilitation while returning to street life, violent crime and substance abuse.
In 2004, he held a samurai sword to a man's neck and threatened him. In 2005, Norris assaulted a teenage boy with a brain injury and subjected him to inhumane treatment, apparently because the boy assaulted his sister. He has undergone four psychiatric assessments, which Meiklem recounted in detail.
Since Norris's rehabilitation might require 10 years if it is to have any chance of succeeding, a lengthy sentence was required, the judge concluded. He gave him nine years, including credit for time already served. The long-term sentence order to follow incarceration includes the most comprehensive conditions available, Meiklem noted.