Former Knight jailed for home invasion

LUKE HENDRY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:31 PM ET

BELLEVILLE, Ont. — A former hockey goon turned drug enforcer has been sentenced to eight years in prison for a 2006 home invasion north of Bancroft, Ont.

Justin M. McPolin, 34, of Toronto, was already serving a 2.5-year sentence for a narcotic charge at the Kingston-area Millhaven penitentiary. He was returned there Friday following his sentencing on five charges related to the home invasion.

Justice Stephen Hunter called the crime a “particularly egregious” case and decried such invasive acts.

“They will not be tolerated by this or any other community,” said Hunter.

McPolin was convicted Sept. 17 of aggravated assault, robbery using a firearm, forcible confinement, assault and assault causing bodily harm after a trial in Bancroft, Ont., located 200 km west of Ottawa.

He entered court Friday smiling, winking at defence lawyer Robert Nuttall.

McPolin said nothing during his sentencing.

The case began Jan. 25, 2006, when McPolin — reportedly with two other men — entered a Baptiste Lake, Ont., home in their search for $500,000 in drug money.

Among seven people confined there were three children ages three through five — the resident couple's children and a neighbour's child.

Hastings County assistant Crown attorney Paul Layefsky said it was a case of “stark horror” and “terror.”

A gun was reportedly fired shortly after the victim's home was entered.

“The gun is fired off near the beginning … to basically terrorize people,” Layefsky said.

The main victim, the home's resident, was then tortured in an effort to extort from him about the location of money.

“He had gasoline poured on him,” said Layefsky. “He had hot knives applied to his skin.”

The latter act caused disfiguring first- and second-degree burns, he said.

Other victims were duct-taped and locked in a closet. The home was ransacked, cupboards torn from the walls, he said.

Layefsky said at one point the victim's 5-year-old son was brought before his father. Tape was removed from the man's eye and he was told his boy would be killed if he didn't reveal the location of the money.

“The gun was held to the son,” Layefsky said.

The men also threatened to kill the family pet and put the gun down the man's throat, Layefsky said.

The prosecutor said the invasion involved unusual cruelty and violence “solely for monetary gain” but he was not asking for the maximum sentence.

Layefsky proposed a sentence of 11 to 14 years, saying other home invasions have resulted in penalties of four to 13 years.

Defence lawyer Nuttall asked for six to eight years.

“We're all in agreement that home invasions are nasty crimes and they call out for lengthy sentences,” he said.

He said his married client has strong family support, is a “good Catholic," an “excellent father” to his 3-year-old child and enjoys working with young people.

Nuttall outlined McPolin's earlier years, saying his client had problems during his school years with concentration, though there was no evidence he suffered from dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or similar conditions.

He attended Fanshawe College in London, Ont., for less than a semester. Already an athlete, he played hockey at several levels.

Hockey press reports at the time described the six-foot-two-inch, 220-pound McPolin as the Ontario Hockey League's toughest player.

“He was recruited to be an enforcer,” Nuttall said.

McPolin played for the OHL's London Knights in the 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 seasons. He also played in the United States in the East Coast Hockey League. There he played for the Columbus, Ohio Chill in 1996-1997 and 1997-1998, receiving a staggering 281 penalty minutes in 43 games.

The following season he ended his career in a fight with the Jacksonville Lizard Kings.

It was in that season he was suspended for punching a linesman in a game against the New Orleans Brass. He was suspended for 35 games and booted from the team.

McPolin then became a professional trainer and was “seduced” into the drug world, Nuttall said.

He was convicted in 2008 of possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking and sent to prison. McPolin was granted full parole but later lost that privilege, the court heard.

Nuttall said it remains unclear what role McPolin played in the 2006 invasion. One of the men tried to limit the violence of the others.

Justice Hunter agreed — to a point.

“Somebody was more compassionate and was concerned about the behaviour of the other(s) ... I don't know who that was,” Hunter said.

“The impact on the people (victims) present is significant,” said the judge, noting that is especially true of the children.

“It would appear that the so-called 'sophisticated' robbery was misguided."

Layefsky said after the sentencing the money was never found.

Hunter said he was impressed by the testimony of McPolin's parents and believed McPolin had the ability to be rehabilitated.

He sentenced McPolin to eight years on the robbery charge; the time must be served consecutively to his existing drug sentence.

Hunter also levied concurrent sentences: two years for the lesser assaults, four years for the aggravated assault and four years for forcible confinement.

Also part of the sentence is a lifetime weapons ban and an automatic DNA submission to the national criminal databank. McPolin must not contact his victims directly or indirectly while serving his sentence.

— With files from Paul Svoboda


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