FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Banishment, that’s the fate of 39-year-old Dennis Earl Jensen, who appeared in Fort St. John Supreme Court on Monday, entering guilty pleas to charges of breaking and entering with intent, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and breaching probation.

A member of Horse Lake First Nation and a resident of Creston, Jensen showed up intoxicated at the Blueberry River First Nation reserve on June 19th, 2020, attempting to visit his cousin, who asked him to leave after an argument, court heard. 

Jensen complied, but then went to a tool shed at his cousin’s residence, taking a sledgehammer to break open the door. Court heard Jensen also took a swing at his cousin, after destroying a dining room table with the sledgehammer, in addition to putting a hole in a wall and damaging a kitchen counter.

Another man was staying at the residence, who subdued and disarmed Jensen with the help of Jensen’s cousin, court heard. Jensen was then forced out of the residence by the two. RCMP were called, and officers arrested Jensen after he fled in a pickup truck.

As part of Jensen’s sentence, an 80-kilometre banishment radius was imposed around the Blueberry River First Nation reserve. 

Jensen also received three years of probation for the charges, a no contact order with his cousin, and mandatory lifetime firearms ban. With time served, Jensen will be under six months of house arrest at his residence in Creston. Due to the seriousness of the incident, he is also no longer welcome in Blueberry River, court heard.  

Jensen’s lawyer, Justin Dosanjh, said his client was in agreement with the banishment, but asked for Gladue factors to be considered in the case. Court heard Jensen was given up by his biological parents as an infant, as they suffered from substance abuse and were unable to care for him. 

Dosanjh said Jensen also fell into addiction, which precipitated the man’s trouble with the law, beginning with alcohol by age 11, but progressing to hard drugs such as meth and crack cocaine by age 14. 

“Addictions are a consistent theme which fuels his offending behaviour,” said Dosanjh.  

Dosanjh said Jensen is taking steps to better his life, having completed substance abuse management and violence prevention programs, in addition to indigenous culture programs to better connect him to his roots. Aside from entering his pleas, Jensen made no comment at his sentencing.

Justice Warren Milman presided over the matter and concluded that Jensen is working to better himself from his offence.  

“I believe that his willingness to plead guilty to the offence is that he’s accepted responsibility for it, and that he is remorseful,” he said.

In other court news

A Fort St. John man charged with a 2020 kidnapping and assault will head to trial next year. Andrew Evan Hall, 41, is accused of assaulting and abducting a man in Charlie Lake on Sept. 13th, 2020, and co-accused with David James Cornell, 36. 

On Monday, Fort St. John Supreme Court set Hall’s trial date for March 6th, 2023.

The B.C. Prosecution Service confirmed that Cornell pleaded guilty last summer to unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon, and robbery. On Nov. 22nd, 2021, he was sentenced to 663 days in jail and given a lifetime firearm prohibition.

Hall is not in custody. His trial is expected to proceed by Supreme Court judge sitting with a jury.  

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Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News

Tom Summer is a Peace Region journalist and has been covering the courts and more in the pages of the Alaska Highway News and Dawson Creek Mirror since 2016. Born and raised in Hudson's Hope, he's also one of the first reporters to take part in the Local Journalism Initiative, delivering news to communities in Northeast BC. Funding is available to eligible Canadian media organizations to hire journalists or pay freelance journalists to produce civic journalism for The content produced...