Feds settle out-of-court with family of murdered inmate

The family of Mountain prison inmate who was strangled to death by his cellmate has reached an out-of-court settlement.

The family of Mountain prison inmate Jeremy Phillips, who was strangled to death by his cellmate, serial killer Michael Wayne MGray, reached an out-of-court settlement in May after filing a civil suit against the federal government.

But family lawyer Myer Rabin told The Progress last week he could not disclose the terms of the settlement because of a confidentiality clause.

“Hopefully, the process (of transferring maximum-security prison inmates to lower-security) will change,” he said, in light of the BC coroner’s inquest last week and an internal investigation by the Correctional Service of Canada.

Rabin said the family was “reasonably happy” with the five recommendations made by the inquest jury, but Phillips’ mother “knows she will never get her son back, and nothing will ever change that.”

He said Phillips’ father died while he was in jail, and Jeremy wanted to be released to take care of his mother by taking a job as a youth counsellor.

“He was planning on turning his life around,” Rabin said.

Phillips, 33, was strangled to death in his cell on Nov. 22, 2010, one week after McGray, 45, a self-proclaimed sociopath with an “urge” to kill, even while in prison, was transferred from Kent maximum-security in Agassiz to Phillips’ medium-security cell at Mountain Institution also in Agassiz.

Rabin said Mountain officials were “not prepared to change” a waiting list for single-cell accommodations for McGray, but instead double-bunked him with Phillips.

The jury is asking the CSC to authorize wardens to make exceptions to the wait list for single-cell accommodations in order to move a dangerous offender into them — and to make the change on a national level.

The jury also recommended that single-cell accommodation for all multiple killers become mandatory, “unless correctional service evidence and assessment determines that a shared accommodation is both safe and practical.”

McGray was assessed and approved for transfer, but Rabin said officials only took into consideration his behaviour in the past year, not the psychiatric reports and the inmate’s own prior statements about his urge to kill.

“They took his word, hook, line and sinker,” Rabin said. “All they did was look at how he was in the last year.”

A spokesperson for the CSC said a review of all five recommendations is underway.

Sara Parkes said in an email to The Progress that the CSC takes the death of an inmate “very seriously,” and that the CSC voluntarily took part in the inquest “to ensure that the issues were examined as thoroughly as possible.”

“While CSC has implemented significant changes to its operational procedures following the death of Mr. Phillips, CSC welcomes the recommendations the jury has offered,” she said.

But Parkes did not return a Progress call for a copy of the recommendations made in the internal investigation, and did not respond to the question of whether any disciplinary action was taken as a result of the CSC review.

Parkes also did not elaborate on what “significant changes” have been made by the CSC.

Gord Robertson, Pacific region president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, was also unable to describe what those changes might be, but said “a more streamlined process” to assess inmates for double-bunking is in the works, but “not yet finalized.”

He said correctional officers don’t always have the complete history of transferred inmates, and may not have known the risk posed by McGray.

He said correctional officers often end up relying more on what other inmates tell them about a transferred prisoner, “which could be completely untrue.”

So he welcomed the recommendation for all line staff to have access to all information about an inmate prior to a transfer, and the recommendations for better flashlight intensity and better ways to detect inmates’ body heat.

Phillips’ body was not discovered for some 12 hours after he was killed, according to McGray’s story, but correctional officers are required to check inmates every half hour at night.

Robertson said Phillips was killed on one of the coldest nights in November, and covered with blankets “it’s difficult to tell if an inmate is breathing in the middle of the night.”

But he said correctional officers welcome “anything that will help us do our job, and make sure inmates are alive and well.”

“Everybody wants to improve this, and make it safer for inmates and staff,” he said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Just Posted

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

n
Quarry Questions: Supreme Court ruling spells concern for Mission bylaws

Judge ruled that provincial permits overrule municipal bylaws relating to mining activity

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read