WINNIPEG — John Lightfoot is no stranger to prison, where he has spent many years preparing inmates for life on the outside by teaching them a trade.
Now the Winnipeg man is returning to familiar surroundings — but he’ll be the one on the wrong side of the bars.
Lightfoot, 59, was sentenced to 44 months behind bars Friday after being caught trying to smuggle drugs into Stony Mountain Institution.
The “corrupted employee” was seeking a three-year sentence, while the Crown asked for six years. Lightfoot had been free on bail but was taken into custody following court Friday to begin serving his time. He has no prior criminal record.
Lightfoot had worked at Stony for more than a decade as a mason instructor, helping inmates learn the craft, court was told.
He was caught trying to bring ecstasy, crystal meth and prescription pills into the facility.
RCMP seized the drugs, along with cash and other items, from a vehicle parked outside the prison.
The Crown called expert evidence at his sentencing hearing late last year about the prevalence of prison drug smuggling and the impact such offences have on inmates, many of whom are struggling with addictions.
“A corrupted employee has potential to do far more damage than anybody else,” said Crown attorney Jasmine Zurbriggen.
She told court it’s likely Lightfoot had done this before and would have thwarted efforts to rehabilitate drug-addicted prisoners.
“He was running a calculated and tested operation,” she said. No other arrests were made in this case.
Defence lawyer John Corona told court his client was desperate for money to pay off extensive gambling debts. Lightfoot claims a mystery message was left on his desk asking him if he wanted to make some quick cash. It told him to park his vehicle outside a Transcona-area restaurant, where several packages were then put inside, he said.
“At the time this happened he was in a bad place mentally,” Corona said.
Lightfoot denies knowing what was in the shipment, a fact both the Crown and the judge questioned. Lightfoot then “chickened out,” his lawyer claims, and decided not to bring the packages into his workplace before he was caught.
“I want to apologize to everyone for what I’ve done,” a tearful Lightfoot told provincial court Judge Carena Roller during the initial sentencing submissions.
Corona had argued a six-year penalty would “do him in” given his age and health problems.
As well, Lightfoot now fears the type of treatment he would receive as a former federal prison worker serving time in such a facility.
» Winnipeg Free Press