Zachary Armitage, 30, is one of two William Head Institution inmates who escaped from the prison in July. He has plead guilty to escape from lawful custody. (Correctional Service of Canada/Facebook)

Zachary Armitage, 30, is one of two William Head Institution inmates who escaped from the prison in July. He has plead guilty to escape from lawful custody. (Correctional Service of Canada/Facebook)

Escaped Metchosin inmate sentenced to additional year tacked on to 14-year sentence

Man escaped from William Head Institution arrested days later in Esquimalt

One of the men who escaped from William Head Institution this summer will spend another year behind bars in addition to his current sentence.

Zachary Armitage, 30, was serving a 13-year, 10-month sentence for a violent robbery, aggravated assault and other offences when he and another inmate escaped from the low-security institution.

He appeared in Western Communities Courthouse Monday by video, waiting by the only window in the small room before sitting down in a chair placed in the middle of the screen.

Armitage and fellow inmate, James Busch, noticed the tide was low on the night of July 7 and made a ‘spontaneous decision’ to escape by walking along the shoreline, according to submissions from Armitage’s defence attorney. The two were present for the prison’s 7 p.m. head count, but were discovered missing four hours later.

RELATED: Corrections says inmates undergo various assessments before placed in prison

The pair evaded capture for two days. They were located in Esquimalt after commenting on the size of a dog on the evening of July 9, unknowingly alerting its owner — an off-duty RCMP officer — to their location. Armitage has been in custody at Mountain Institution ever since.

With known gang affiliations, illicit drug use and a conviction on a violent crime, a Corrections Service Canada analysis had deemed Armitage fit for a medium security institution, but an override was recommended and Armitage was moved to the West Shore minimum security prison in April, 2018.

On Sept. 30 he appeared in court and the judge stopped proceedings, requesting additional information about the override recommendation that put him in low-security prison.

Armitage, who has been in prison for the majority of his life, has six escapes on his record. On Monday the judge told the courts the sentence needed to be long enough to discourage Armitage from attempting to escape again, but also to deter other inmates who may be contemplating an escape. The courts heard that an internal report from Corrections Canada had noted Armitage’s positive efforts in rehabilitation, along with the opinion that he was low escape risk and had been working on a long-term integration plan.

The judge emphasized this was not a prison breach with violence and had not been a planned escape. Aggravating factors of the case included Armitage’s lengthy history in custody for violent crimes coupled with numerous escape attempts. An early guilty plea, along with Armitage’s Indigenous identity and a history of transient housing and family violence were noted as minimizing factors. The courts heard that Armitage was 12 when he turned to substances and had been involved with the law from that time.

RELATED: Judge ‘bewildered’ that escaped Metchosin inmate was in a minimum security prison

Armitage has been diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder stated the judge, noting that he acts younger than his age.

Crown has not asserted any crimes were committed while the pair were out of custody, but it was noted that Armitage was found with drug paraphernalia at the time of his arrest.

Armitage’s defence attorney, Roberto Alberto, said his client was up for parole in September and felt the pressure of his potential release.

“It’s difficult for all of us to understand why someone would make a decision with a parole hearing coming up so soon, but you’ve got to understand this is a person who’s been in jail for a long, long time and what goes through their mind is something we may not be able to understand fully,” said Alberto outside the courtroom on Monday. “He made a spontaneous bad decision.”

Armitage himself told the judge that he had good things lined up but “had this fear of getting out and screwing up,” at his hearing in September.

“When I think about getting out, I get scared,” he said the time. “Even now, my hands are all clammy. I don’t know, man. … Now I wish I could take it back. I could be out right now. But now I’m here. I’m not the person you read in the paper anymore. I’ve worked really hard to change that.”

Armitage will spend another seven years in custody at the Mountain Institute, depending on parole.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read