Review into stabbing of accused murderer at Burnside jail shows procedure failure

Published on August 27, 2014
Thomas Ted Barrett of Glace Bay, charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths Laura Catherine Jessome and Brett Elizabeth MacKinnon, arrives at Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax on Feb. 2, 2013.
The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

DARTMOUTH - Following the Nova Scotia justice department’s release Tuesday of a review into the group stabbing of a 39-year-old inmate in June, the executive director for Correctional Services said it’s important to “be vigilant.”

The review of the incident where five men are alleged to have severely assaulted Thomas Ted Barrett of Cape Breton in a Central Nova Correctional Facility cell with makeshift weapons, sending him to hospital with over 40 wounds, showed the standard operating procedure regarding the number of offenders per cell wasn’t followed.

Only those offenders assigned to a cell are allowed to be there at any time, the review stated, and executive director Bill Smith said that procedure has been “reinforced” among the staff moving forward.

He said the incident happened “very quickly” and some people intend to do things that can’t always be prevented.

Smith would not comment on what the weapons were made out of, but said “almost anything” can be made into a weapon when there is a will to create one.

“We need to be vigilant,” Smith said.

He said the review showed the importance of following procedures, and although there’s “great staff” at the facility who are well-trained, incidents can still happen.

Barrett is believed to have suffered more than 40 stab wounds in addition to being kicked and punched. At one point, he was placed in an induced coma in order to reduce swelling on the brain.

He continues to recover from his injuries.

Barrett is facing two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Laura Catherine Jessome and Brett Elizabeth McKinnon. It’s believed he’s back in jail in Cape Breton.