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We had pork chops. I thought those boys would blow up they had so many pork chops. He was a lovely child. When he came to us at 6 years old he could read everything. He could read the newspaper. He was a very bright kid. Rebecca and Darcy bonded quickly. David was into sports. Darcy was the more artistic of the two, which appealed to the arty Rebecca.
Rebecca would later send a text adding that she took Darcy to a couple of punk rock shows — the headlining band at one of those shows was Euthanasia. Darcy scrambles up a tree and starts shooting crabapples at passersby. Rebecca is helpless so she bolts to Radio Shack to get her stepfather to coax him out of the tree. In hindsight he reminds me of this dog I used to have — she was a husky coyote. Darcy modelled himself on Rebecca. While David would go in for brand wear, Darcy always favoured ripped jeans and T-shirts.
Darcy was on Ritalin when he arrived at the Sheppards. It stunts their growth, that Ritalin. There were episodes of his disappearing and not showing up …. He went into the gym climbing the bars on the wall, way to the top, and then leaning out, pretending he was going to fall. She remembers Darcy setting fire to his bedroom; Rebecca remembers holes punched in walls.
Darcy was assessed at a psychiatric clinic at the University of Alberta Hospital. That led to two weeks in the pediatric psychiatric ward, then a period of long-term treatment at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. He was there for a year. And at the end of the visit I would leave and I would have to walk down the street where he could see me.
Having lost his job, Sheppard tried to make ends meet as a freelance copy editor. Beth was holding the house together financially and believed that Darcy needed a stronger dose of discipline than her husband was willing to provide. Beth heaves a long sigh. David and Darcy accompanied Sheppard when he left the family home. I had had it by that time. Social services assisted Sheppard in finding an apartment.
The boys were disruptive and unruly in their new home. The trio was evicted. I need help looking after them.
We all knew that Darcy would be impossible. Things got to such a point … on one occasion I got so frustrated with Darcy, I had a belt in my hand and I took maybe six or eight inches of the belt and tapped him on the shoulder.
There was a hammer in the room. He picked up the hammer and he charged me with that hammer in his hand. And I quickly got into the bedroom and closed the door …. I knew then that definitely we had reached the end of the line.
Throughout these years, Sheppard, who had joint custody of both boys with social services, made weekly visits. It could have been the Friday of the long weekend, or possibly the Saturday, when Tracey Janes hopped the bus in Perth, Ont. Tracey, being all of 16, was eager to shake country life. On the one hand, she loved her horse, Shooter; on the other, she was eager to run the roads, to find some excitement. Everybody was sort of drawn to him. He was the centre of attention.
Darcy Allan Sheppard was six weeks shy of his 20th birthday and was on the road with Conklin Shows, working a ride called the Schlittenfahrt, explaining to the instantaneously besotted and bemused Janes that schlittenfahrt is German for sleigh ride. She would later learn that the ogling ride operators would direct the skirt-wearing girls with the silken bare thighs to the cars on the hilltops.
Sheppard asked Janes if she wanted to hang out after closing. That meeting fell through, but she returned the next day and coaxed a friendly worker to summon Sheppard to the admission gates. Sheppard spirited her inside, gratis.
He wore his hair long. He was tall and ultra-fit and lean and dashing and funny and had a voice like a DJ. Sometimes he worked the Snowball Express. That sounds like an extreme amount of latitude for a mother to give a year-old. But Janes describes herself as a virtual runaway: Perhaps in that context, life with the carnival seemed the better bargain. She swiftly grew lonely.
Sheppard drank, though, she suggests, not epically. The living conditions were abysmal. After the rides were extracted from the back of the trailers, rudimentary sleeping quarters were fashioned in their place. He cadged food by charming the girls who ran the burger joints and pizza stops. He was spontaneous, hyper, seat of the pants, in the moment.
Janes ran the Hampton Umbrella Ride for the kiddies. She retrieves this observation from life on the road, moving from town to town: It was just a dirty place. My conversations with Janes took place by phone and email.
She lives in Brockville now, and in our first conversation I could hear her take long drags on a cigarette as she tested her memory.
Her recollections felt like an accordion being played, the story of her years with Sheppard orchestrated through a series of compressions and expansions. She became pregnant in the United States. This became a cyclical pattern that was never broken, at least as far as Sheppard Sr. I wear that one. A move to Edmonton was a bust.
They tried to carry the rent on a small apartment. Darcy was unable to hold down a job. We always had broken phones …. It was constant throwing and screaming, the odd shove. It was a daily thing. Penniless, the couple planned a move back to Perth. Sheppard, briefly, took off for B. He landed a good job with a construction company, laying foundations. The couple purchased a new car. Responsibility appeared to have arrived. But then Sheppard lost his job.
Six weeks after she gave birth to a baby boy, Janes became pregnant with their second child. Sheppard tried to make ends meet delivering pizzas part time; Janes tried working at the local carnival. A lot of it was once we were in bed. A lot of my friends to this day live that way so to us it seems pretty normal.
There was zero stability for the children. One day Janes hooked up with a guy from Brockville and told Sheppard it was time to separate. That collapsed, the result of more drugs and more hookers.
The kids became like shuttlecocks, batted back and forth — from the unsuitable to the desperate and back again to the hopeless. That said, Janes adds, Sheppard could be a great father, playful and loving. The kind who builds a fort with his kids, and mom comes home to find the children asleep, covered in Cheezies dust. The kind of father who works at creating the childhood he never had. In the summer of , Sheppard showed up with his then girlfriend.
The children became Crown wards and were placed in a foster family that, by all accounts, has provided a stable and loving home life ever since that day in September In the late spring of , Janes, who was then selling drugs, heard that Sheppard was back in town, staying with a new partner at a Perth hotel, and that he wanted custody of their children.
He told me to sit down and have a drink and calm down. The kids have been in the same foster home. And he did that and that was the last time I saw him. Today Janes works in the recycling department of a consumer products company.
She has recently completed a course in child and youth worked at St. During her time at college, she was given a class assignment to write a letter on an emotional event. Upon reading the letter the teacher asked her: This prompted a second letter, which was passed along to Bryant by a lawyer friend of the teacher.
What Janes sought was assistance in securing supervised visits with her children. Bryant facilitated that, through an attorney who agreed to take the case pro bono. He writes about this in the book. In July, Janes had her first visit with the children. I ask her about her feelings toward Michael Bryant today.
I think if he could have done it differently he would have. I think probably mistakes were made at that moment. Jesus came to Al Sheppard more than a decade ago, when Al, having forsaken the name Darcy, was living on the streets, sleeping in an alley, working as a squeegee on Queen St.
Jesus, whose beard used to be longer and his appearance more Christ-like, is a bike courier who met Al for the first time at Grange Park. Pull over and have a sausage. Al took naturally to being a courier, a fit misfit who would ride in the organized Alley Cat courier races. Al never went in for chamois-lined cycling shorts.
He often wore rolled-up cargo pants. On Suit Day he would go all out, vest and tie. He liked to tell jokes. He imagined life as a standup comedian his routine needed work, everyone agrees. He went to the air show every year. His favourite car was a Pontiac GTO.
He would call out to the ladies: It was Harris who connected Al with Action Messenger, the courier company Al worked for at the time of his death, call number There were waybills in that backpack, the one he heaved as the drama unfolded on Bloor St.
There was a bike lock in there too, a few odds and ends. Anyway, being a courier was perfect for someone like Al. Harris is sitting on a concrete bench tucked into a small grove of trees. The surroundings feel almost gladelike, an escape in the middle of the downtown core. Couriers zip in and out, eager to crack a beer, weigh in, just pause for a minute.
Twiggy turns, up in his pedals. The senior statesman in the group is Brian Anderson, who, at a neatly trim pounds on a five-foot-six frame, is on the verge of his 61st birthday.
Anderson has been riding a bike since His father worked for the CBC, but after working inside jobs for half a dozen years Anderson realized he preferred the independence of courier life. One of the couriers presents his life choice thus: He opens a plastic sandwich container and tries to feed some cheese to a fellow cyclist. Every flock needs a mother hen. The courier, up on his pedals, immobile, turning to the driver, mocking: Great guy — not so great when plastered. Al on the running board of a BMW, clutching onto the car, subjecting the driver to a blistering tirade.
He had the athleticism for the job. The bike breaking down. Al had an apartment on Dufferin St. Bailey says he was supposed to move back in the day he died. When he showed up drunk he went to sleep it off, vomiting onto a blanket, which he tossed out the bedroom window of the third-floor apartment. More reason for yelling, screaming, the type of domestic fireworks that prompt neighbours to call the cops. Her very slight box of mementoes includes a note Sheppard wrote to her, torn from a tiny notepad, professing his love.
There are some snaps. A belt buckle he liked. The ticket stubs from their March trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario. I ask Misty if she bakes, which may seem an odd question. Misty would, in fact, bake cornbread and tomato soup cake and take it downtown for Al and his pals. Bailey says Al was good on weed, bad on booze. Brian Jesus Harris says Al was trying to cut back on his drinking the summer of The police were called.
Sheppard was allowed to go on his way, cycling west. He had a biking past and knew bikes and that helped forge a close relationship with Al. In August, , Al was going through a hard time. He was drinking a lot.
He wanted to get clean. He wanted to get sober. He was under a tremendous amount of pressure with his job. He felt like he wanted to do more … but he felt sometimes he was fucking up. They would meet up on occasional mornings, before Al headed off for his first tallboy, before work. He took the Miele off to a bike shop, got her fixed up, then rode and rode her until he reached the Beach. There were no witnesses. The young men had been taunting Scopelliti that night.
Scopelliti said Sutton took a swing at him and missed. He would testify that Sutton had advanced toward him, his hand in his pocket, and demanded the money in the till. The confrontation was described as up close and face to face. He said he feared for his life.
The teens said the commuter cut them off, sparking their ire. In this incident, charges were laid against Sutton and McRae and the teens were fined.
When can a jury know about prior bad acts? The decision was groundbreaking. A jury acquitted Scopelliti, the Crown appealed, the acquittal was upheld. In The Case for the Defence , Greenspan predicted that Scopelliti, or similar-fact, evidence would be limited in its use. In the case for the defence of Michael Bryant, R.
It is in that context that the Crown has considered Mr. Peck described six witness incidents. The accounts were all brought forward by defence counsel. Photographs of that incident show a shirtless Sheppard, pants low on his ass, right-leg pant leg rolled, yelling.
He was holding onto the window. He would not back off. Bryant had acted criminally in the circumstances given what we knew. He walked into the club exuding summer — straw hat; a plaid shirt in vibrant blues, seeming out of place at first in the Albany foyer, with its blood-red walls and its curio cabinets full of Winston Churchill porcelains. What the reader can take from all this is that in the past seven years Robert Shawyer has made a go of it and he thanks Al Sheppard for that.
Shawyer believes it was no later than Aug. He had a court date soon. Was Shawyer interested in representing him? Al faced six charges, including threatening death and two charges of pointing a firearm. He had slid into the back of a cab near Wellesley and Church Sts. Al had what appeared to be two black semiautomatic handguns, and was sliding from side to side in the rear of the cab, yelling and screaming.
He gestured at two female pedestrians and threatened: The accused was subsequently arrested in a McCaul St. In my first year of practice he probably got me odd clients. It was just incredible. And he liked him. Just as Ryan Walsh liked him. Just as Martha McOuat liked him. Just as Brian Harris loved him. Justice Bentley through the incident, informing the judge that Al was assessed as high risk to reoffend. They are not to demonize Mr.
Sheppard, nor as the basis for anyone suggesting that he somehow deserved his fate. The flip side, especially during a drinking binge, was his propensity to flip out. Al was incarcerated in Oshawa on an old warrant. I got him out on bail and that was the last time I heard from Al until I heard about the incident with Michael Bryant. And I never heard from anybody. Shawyer is not willing to render an opinion on the outcome of the case. So do I have a problem with what the court did?
Do I have a problem with the way the Crown presented its case? Of course I do. Elaborating, Shawyer offers this: Forty-pound bundles of plastic-wrapped flyers are piled inside the doorway of a row house in Cornwall, a town just outside Charlottetown, PEI.
The entranceway is open to the living room, which is being warmed by a plug-in heater. A supersized flat-screen TV dominates the room, which is furnished with a few pieces of supersized faux leather furniture. Above an empty aquarium, stencilled on the wall, are the words: Allan Sheppard is staring out the picture window, which is ringed with a string of tiny white Christmas lights.
He is nursing a cup of green tea to help ease his bronchitis. An abscessed tooth has caused one cheek to turn puffy and red. He was born Roy Allan Sheppard. The guards stepped out of the photo frame when the family pictures were taken. They have a young son, Kash. It is the first time he speaks of his own past difficulties in forging relationships and his dips into depression and how he chose theatre work initially not because he wanted to be on the stage but because he liked the structure that came along with theatrical production.