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Sucker punch lands Kelowna man under deportation order in jail

Former refugee found criminally inadmissible to Canada in 2009

KELOWNA, May 2016 – A criminally inadmissible Kelowna resident under a five-year-old deportation order was recently jailed for an assault conviction involving a sucker punch thrown in a bar fight in September 2014.

Steven Edward Kollie was found guilty of assaulting Michael Martin outside a downtown Kelowna nightclub called Sapphire. Kollie delivered the incriminating blow after two previous altercations involving the victim and a friend of Kollie’s who was also at the club.

Reports indicate that Martin was talking with Kollie’s friend outside the club when Kollie walked up and punched Martin from behind. Martin hit his head on the concrete as he fell to the ground. The victim subsequently went into a coma but survived.

“The attack on Mr. Martin, while only a single punch, was savage, unprovoked and clearly pre-meditated,” the judge said. “Mr. Martin was totally defenceless. He never had a chance.”

“He was rushed to the hospital suffering a number of serious injuries, including a skull fracture, internal brain bleed and significant brain injury,” added the judge at the hearing where Kollie’s sentence was announced. Martin sustains significant brain damage that prevents him from returning to his former job.

This latest prison sentence is not the first for Canadian permanent resident Kollie. Born in Liberia in 1987, Kollie entered Canada at the age of two as a refugee along with his mother, stepfather, and siblings. Since gaining permanent residency in 1997, he has had several run-ins with the law.

Kollie resided for a time in Edmonton, where he amassed a total of 31 convictions on his record. Assault charges in 2006 led to a 22-month prison stint, followed by a 2009 removal order. Kollie was deemed “a permanent resident who is inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality.”

Kollie tried to appeal the order, raising humanitarian considerations that his three children would suffer if he were deported. But in 2011, Canada Border Services Agency dismissed his appeal.

Likely to re-offend

The dismissal directly responded to Kollie’s concerns about the welfare of his children.

“I find that the appellant’s choice to continually break the law has negatively impacted the children’s lives by forcing Child and Family Services to seize the children and place them in foster care for a period of two years,” the dismissal stated. “There is no evidence that the children rely on the appellant, either emotionally or financially.”

The dismissal further found him at risk to re-offend, as “demonstrated by his continual defiance of criminal law.”

The prediction proved correct. Kollie was involved in an Edmonton robbery in 2011, which earned him a four-year sentence. Three years later, the Kelowna assault occurred, for which Kollie received a five-year prison sentence for aggravated assault. As CBSA has confirmed, Kollie’s removal order remains in effect—a total of five years after the dismissal of his appeal.

CBSA representatives refrained from commenting on the specific details of Kollie’s case. According to CBSA communications advisor Bernée Bolton, however, the offender’s sentence must be fully served before the removal order can be carried out.

“While criminal matters take precedence over immigration matters,” Bolton added, “there can be additional delays between the time a removal order is issued and the day an individual leaves Canada.”

If Kollie’s frequent troubles with the law were the reason his appeal was dismissed, they may also be the reason he has not yet been deported. Media commentators have suggested that Kollie remains in Canada as a result of his recurring pattern of prison sentences. At the time of his last sentencing, the judge pointed out that Kollie “has been almost continually in custody since 2006.”

Keeping offenders in custody entails a tremendous financial burden on the government. Statistics Canada reported that, from 2013 to 2014, the incarceration of a federal offender incurs average institutional expenses of $108,770 per year.

Kollie’s custody may continue to cost that amount for three more years. For the prison time served prior to his latest sentence, Kollie received 644 days of credit at time-and-a-half. His release date is estimated for the summer of 2019.

You may read about other recent cases of criminally inadmissible individuals facing deportation orders here on our website. These include Somali-born Abdirahmaan Warssama, who spent 67 months in an Ontario jail awaiting removal from the country. If you have your own questions about admissibility to Canada, you may contact a legal professional for advice at First Immigration Law Firm, toll-free in North America at 1-855-360-4333.