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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Sooke Bluffs staircase closed due to rot

District to consider replacement for ‘high risk’ staircase in fall

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

BIPOC artists come together to paint mural highlighting racial injustice in Bastion Square

‘More Justice, More Peace’ to go beyond cycle of hurt and sadness

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read