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Vernon man sentenced to time served for prison violence

Blake Everett Dergez assaulted two officers, one has since left the profession
The Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) is seen here in this file image. (Western News - File)

A Vernon man has been sentenced to time served for assaulting two correction officers.

On Nov. 7, Blake Everett Dergez was in Penticton Supreme Court to be sentenced for the 2022 assaults.

Dergez is still awaiting trial for six charges of assault with a weapon, four charges of breach of release order, one count of uttering threats and one count of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, after he was arrested in 2021 following an investigation into lasers being shined at aircraft in Kelowna.

The charges regarding the use of the laser pointer were stayed earlier in 2023 but the other charges from that day remain.

Since being arrested, Dergez has been kept in custody at Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver. The two most recent assaults both took place in OCC.

It’s not Dergez’ first stay at the facility, nor his first incidents of violence while behind bars, as while he was jailed for a prior offence, he assaulted correctional officers in July 2021 after tearing off a piece of metal and using it as a weapon to fend off a team of officers sent to remove him from his cell.

The first incident that he was sentenced for on Nov. 7 involved him punching at an officer using a riot shield, causing the shield to hit the officer in the face.

The second incident was far more serious, and the presiding Justice noted the circumstances leading up to the actual assault were troubling.

Dergez, who had a significantly troubled childhood where he suffered both physical and sexual violence, has several mental health diagnoses including light sensitivity.

He has also used crystal meth as a form of self-medication, along with cocaine and other drugs including multiple attempts to overdose on heroin, the Justice said.

READ MORE: Vernon man accused of pointing a laser at planes found guilty of prison violence

It was the light sensitivity issue that was a large factor in the assault. While in custody, a particular correctional officer who was a stickler for the rules was stationed on Dergez’s area.

With his issues of light sensitivity, Dergez often took to papering over his cell window, which was against facility rules.

The correctional officer had a history of waking Dergez during the morning medication pass for prisoners, despite Dergez not being on the list and multiple protests and complaints.

The Justice noted that Dergez had gone through the work of filing official complaint forms to OCC healthcare only to be told nothing could be done since he wasn’t on the morning medication list. That response, the Justice noted, helped convince Dergez that the officer was specifically harassing him.

Morning medication checks, prior to the correctional officer unlocking the doors to the cells, had them check inside by shining a flashlight through the cell door window. Policy at the facility was to ensure it was always shone onto the floor and not into faces or eyes, something Dergez said was done repeatedly to him.

On the day of the incident, he testified that the officer had done just that, but the Justice also noted that the sequence of events were contested.

“I accept Mr. Dergez and his evidence of what happened, as to him ‘snapping,’ but it does not excuse it,” the Justice said.

The correctional officer suffered a concussion from the beating, and has since left the profession entirely.

The Justice noted that Dergez had attempted to go through official channels, despite his long-standing distrust of authority and of other people in general, prior to the assault.

Between the two assaults, Dergez received a sentence of 20 months in jail, which was taken off as credit for time served so far since his 2021 arrest.

The Justice noted that Dergez still had 278 days worth of time served credit remaining to go towards other cases, such as the pending trial for the 2021 assaults.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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