Police Chief Dumbfounded

In a tweet late this afternoon, Cobourg Police Chief Paul Vandgraaf said  “So he is on house arrest type conditions for a multiple violent robberies … comes 2 hours to Cobourg to deal drugs, is arrested, lies to the police and is released at bail? Dumbfounded is all I can say!”  The story started yesterday when Police “commenced a drug investigation into activity at 351 John Street” and “arrested an adult male. At the time of arrest, the man was on release for numerous outstanding robbery charges stemming from a Greater Toronto Area investigation. He was also failing to abide by his condition of house arrest at the time of this interdiction.”  Not especially unusual.  They seized a quantity of illegal drugs and cash and charged Prince Owusu, 22-year-old of Brampton with drug possession, obstructing Police, giving a false name, possessing proceeds of crime and failing to Comply with Recognizance.  But that was only the start.

They then held him for a bail hearing.  That is, he was held in custody until he could appear before a Justice of the Peace (JP).

The best way to describe this is to quote the Police verbatim:

Upon arrest, police investigation revealed that the Owusu was currently on release conditions for armed robbery charges stemming from a Greater Toronto Area investigation in 2018. He was also on a house arrest condition, meaning he was not to be away from the residence without his surety.

This afternoon, on appearing before a Justice of the Peace at the Ontario Court of Justice, Prince Owusu was released on similar conditions to the same surety.

“Here we have an individual who, after allegedly committing violent offences, is released. He comes to our community to participate in the drug trade. Cobourg Police arrest him, and he willingly obstructs by offering a false name. How can it be that today, once again, he is released,” says Chief Paul VandeGraaf, Cobourg Police Service. “In following the Ministry’s own ladder approach, Owusu’s next step was detention. How did we go backwards? The system is not working. The release of this individual shows very clearly that we are not all on the same page when it comes to protecting our community. We are chasing our tails, and the good work of the women and men of my service goes to waste. We hear regularly that the drug issue in our community is a priority. We expend resources directly into making a difference. And when we do that, the system fails the community and the members of the Service.”

“It is disheartening for our members and our community. The ones who live through it every day, seeing that the police are actively working to make a difference and the courts do not support them in their efforts. The Cobourg Police Services Board fully supports Chief VandeGraaf and the incredible efforts of the Service members. Today’s release shows that we need to take a critical look at the current system and work together to protect our community.” – Chair Dean Pepper, Cobourg Police Services Board.

You wouldn’t blame Police for feeling despair.  The rules say that he is now supposed to be in custody (jail). Why work to get known criminals off the street when they are just let go. (I guess I should add “alleged” – that’s the Politically Correct thing to say).  Is there no appeal against incompetent JPs?  Can they be fired?  And we can be sure that this criminal will commit another crime before he is caught again.

And will he face the same incompetent JP? All we can hope is that he goes somewhere else (either Prince Owusu or the un-named JP or both).

The good news is that the Chief is supporting his team and the Police Board chair is supporting the Chief.



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29 May 2021 2:39 pm

What’s wrong with an ankle tag for repeat offenders? As soon as they leave home the cops know.

Pete M
18 May 2021 11:00 pm

In 2018 the Federal Gov’t changed the rules in regards to bail and bail hearings.

I direct you to the following link on bail and other criminal code changes as announced by the federal Dept of justice


The Feds were responding to Supreme Court of Canada ruling R vs Antic (2017) see decision link below:


These rules mean less people are being held in custody now than before 2017. You really have to justify why

Also special consideration is to be given for indigenous and vulnerable peoples. Maybe Mr. Owusu comes from a racially and socio-economic vulnerable community.

The J.P made their determination to release based in these new bail release principles. If the J.P. misunderstood the law, then Crown Attorney’s office need to take it to the Provincial Body that over sees J..P discipline.

Do I agree with the JP decision? 100 % NO I Dont!!

But you need to direct your displeasure with the system to the Feds— and by that I mean the PM and party in power— They are the ones who can undo what they have subjected the whole of Canada to.

16 May 2021 6:46 am

What an interesting and scary situation. Doesn’t being out on bail mean that somebody put up money? What happens to that money? Did the same person put up more money on Friday? Is this Prince guy going to deal more drugs to pay the bail? How did he decide to come to Cobourg? I’m not aware we have a shortage of drug dealers. This week I met a woman who recently moved to Cobourg in part to get away from the drugs in her old community. Unfortunately, on the same day, about half a block away somebody died. Apparently he was growing some plants. The plants could be legal and not related to his untimely death. It will be a long difficult process for Prince Owusu to become a productive member of society if it is possible.

Amy Thornton
Reply to  Kevin
17 May 2021 1:24 pm

Hi Chief of Police
Im a law abiding, good neighbor, resident of John Street. We all know too well the goings on at 151. Please take initiative to find out why so much criminal activity is happening there and making John Street a nightmate to live on. Its the same residence that fire arms were seized not long ago. Maybe the owner of the property is part of the problem letting active criminals commune their.
I ask you Police Chief, what can be done about the root of the problem? Incompetence of the Court/Justice system is only an unfortunate side effect of the Virus taken hold of that Residence in our Community.
Kindly Amy

Last edited 1 year ago by Amy Thornton
Reply to  Amy Thornton
18 May 2021 8:14 am

Do you think this might possibly be a make work look busy make our selves indispensable scenario. After all Cobourg is a sleepy little town in reality .
The George st Fiasco went on for 2 yrs before the neighbourhood got angary enough
and put some Real pressure on Council and the Police Dept . and from what I see and hear Its the same bunch of people from George now at 151 .

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Sandpiper
18 May 2021 10:38 am

at 351

Bloated Senior
15 May 2021 6:32 pm

Just curious why the JP was not named in this article.

AYRES Pamela
15 May 2021 3:34 pm

Chief – Many citizens are as frustrated as you with criminal activity being followed by charges then bail release. Help us to understand, as a community, how we make our voices heard that this is not acceptable.

Last edited 1 year ago by AYRES Pamela
Deb OConnor
Reply to  AYRES Pamela
15 May 2021 7:37 pm

May I suggest that what is unacceptable is people being incarcerated before a trial and conviction is obtained. Jeez, this is not some backwoods whiskey drinkin’ holler in the Appalachians.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deb OConnor
15 May 2021 8:33 pm

Deb, since you feel so strongly about this injustice perhaps you should offer to be their surety and allow them to live with you until their trial.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 May 2021 9:52 pm

Hopefully you and all your dinosaur friends will disappear into your swamp before long. We sure don’t need you here anymore.

You might want to try, just try, to understand what justice actually is. This ain’t the Middle Ages anymore, thank heaven.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deb OConnor
15 May 2021 10:38 pm

I propose that we get rid of the concept of imprisonment for nonviolent first offenders, except in the most egregious cases. We only send people to prison because it has always been done. I emphasize that I’m not speaking of violent people or anyone who is a menace to society, but for non-violent first offenders, other than those guilty of a Bernie Madoff scale of criminality; they should be sentenced to a Spartan regime of working in the area of their specialty or aptitude, for room and board only. This would reduce employers’ costs, save approximately $50,000 a year per prisoner for the taxpayers and would be noticed and emulated around the world. Such wrongdoers could be bonded by the federal government to protect employers in case of recidivist conduct. We should also assure much greater resources for public defenders, and build out somewhat from the enhancement of the rights of the accused that are contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The habit of throwing inordinate numbers of Indigenous people into prison for offences that cannot possibly be justly expiated in this way, merely amplifies the failure of our Indigenous policy, a subject that need not be revisited here”
— Conrad Black, May 15, 2021, National Post

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
16 May 2021 8:26 am

Mr. Black’s suggestion is not new. Inmates from the Don Jail grew vegetables at Riverdale Farm in Toronto (now Riverdale Park) starting in the 1850s. In my youth, prisoners — chain gangs — did road work; I believe that practice is still common in Arizona. Closer to Cobourg, Trilcor Industries of Lindsay allows prisoners to make license plates, blankets and other products.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
16 May 2021 9:19 am

What’s being described here falls somewhere between indentured servitude and a forced labour camp…and no, it’s certainly not a new idea.

What a wonderful vision you have for our country.

Reply to  Deb OConnor
16 May 2021 11:35 am

How many additional crimes is acceptable for them to committ before trial?

15 May 2021 1:51 pm

Too bad out police can’t “Bust a few Heads” when these guys come to town. Perhaps a couple of “who done it” broken arms would keep them away.

Reply to  cornbread
15 May 2021 2:23 pm

People who are inclined to “bust heads” shouldn’t be allowed to be cops.

Reply to  cornbread
15 May 2021 8:21 pm

Shocking to think that we have reached the point where we resort to revenge fantasies of vigilante justice because our courts have proven far too lenient too many times when it comes to serious crime.

Reply to  cornbread
16 May 2021 9:33 am

What do you mean when you “these guys come to town”? They are from town. Wake up and realize that crime and drugs are everywhere.

15 May 2021 12:38 pm

The biggest motivating factor in release vs.holding is cost.

It’s ironic that those that incessantly whine over every last nickel in taxes they pay and break out the torches and pitchforks at the mere mention of any increase are very often the same people calling for the most punitive, incarceration-based…and by far the most expensive approaches to criminal justice.

There’s no question that this guy should be in a cell. There’s also no question that this country’s intrepid tax-fighters are a big part of this problem.

Old Sailor
15 May 2021 11:08 am

Sounds like an assignment/investigation for our local MPP. With direction from our Cobourg Police Service.

Bloated Senior
Reply to  Old Sailor
15 May 2021 6:35 pm

Haha, good luck with that. (I mean with the local MPP).

Last edited 1 year ago by Bloated Senior
Reply to  Old Sailor
16 May 2021 8:13 am

Lets take that 1 step further where the real facts might be discovered OPP investigation
our MPP is a little weak in some areas and Timely fallow through is 1 of them . Besides what can we expect to attract when we The Mayor is in favour of bringing all these Drug Rehab Hotels
with Fine Dinning to town . These are not places of incarceration Where there are wearing Ankle Bracelets ,.nor are they Locked up in a building . They come by choice or , court order most of the time. They use drugs the same way by choice . Just because they are staying at a rehab does not mean that access to drugs is cut off . The Police will be busier than ever around here as we now have a concentrated market all in one place waiting to be supplied .
We were misled as residents by our so called leaders Council With Rehabs come problems ,
costly responsibilities and impact on any community .
That’s why our Police Chief is now Dumb Founded Today they did not do their home work

15 May 2021 9:54 am

Word gets around very quickly: do whatever you want, there are no penalties.
It’s called “catch-and-release”.

15 May 2021 9:05 am

Judges need to be elected

Reply to  Jones
15 May 2021 12:17 pm

No way. You’d end up with the same crap situation that exists with USA, where politics ‘Trumps’ (sorry) justice. No we need competency and better laws. Who was the JP in this case? Get the name out there. There must be some kind of assessment/performance review of the JPs in general. With that done get the laws upgraded so that serious repeat offenders are not left running around thumbing their nose at citizens and the law alike.

Reply to  Jones
15 May 2021 3:54 pm

NOOO! That would be worse! Maybe more training for judges would improve decision making from yahoos like this justice.

Keith Oliver
15 May 2021 8:51 am

This error and it’s possible harm to others as an individual who repeatedly breaks the law and once again goes free, needs a full investigation.

To whom do members of the public address their concerns and a demand for such an investigation?

Malcom Thomas
15 May 2021 8:34 am

Perhaps drug dealing is considered an essential service, whereas robbery is not.

All kidding aside, do we not have enough ankle bracelets available?

Obviously when some sign a Promise to Appear, clearly they must have their fingers crossed!

15 May 2021 8:34 am

Some of the judges and JP’s are too lazy to read/understand the full case…happens all the time according to my lawyer daughter. It’s about time some of the prosecutors get angry with the person on the bench…or is politics getting in the way? Just look south of the border to see the new Liberal ways with criminals.

Deb OConnor
Reply to  cornbread
15 May 2021 7:47 pm

So you figure that it’s ok for prosecutors to have sway over the judges/adjudicators? Excuse me while I indulge in a hearty laugh.

Andrew Allan
15 May 2021 8:22 am

Maybe it was the bail brief done up by the officer who did not put all the revalant info down on paper so that the crown could not present the holding of the suspect in jail.
Or the crown did not present all the info in the bail brief the JP.
Just don’t dump on the JP.
Look into the matter.

Paul VandeGraaf
Reply to  Andrew Allan
15 May 2021 9:20 am

Andrew….quite surprised by your stance. The investigating officer was present in the court! Not a huge brief required for someone arrested 2 hours away from his residence when he is on house arrest. I have no difficulty determining the failing here! NONE!

Reply to  Paul VandeGraaf
15 May 2021 10:49 am

So this is shocking to everyone the there are incompetent JP’s etc. , the Police Services are usually blamed for the release of criminals and the courts are quite conveniently not having to take any heat, at last someone has brought this broken release system to light, good on you chief, keep up the good work

John L. Hill
Reply to  Paul VandeGraaf
15 May 2021 11:20 am

I can sympathize with the Chief’s frustration. Will either the Chief or the Police Services Board be making a complaint to the Justices of the Peace Review Board? If not, why not?

ben burd
Reply to  John L. Hill
15 May 2021 5:47 pm

John – you would know better than I but how do we know the JP isn’t following guidelines designed to cut costs!

Reply to  Paul VandeGraaf
15 May 2021 12:24 pm

Like John H asks – who/where/when do these complaints get addressed? Your lead Chief would be beneficial to the rest of us.

Andrew Allan
Reply to  Paul VandeGraaf
16 May 2021 3:12 pm

I am not taking a stance,just giving my opinion of what may have happened to cause his release after what I have seen over my 33 years experience in the police service.
I have seen and heard bad bail briefs as well as seeing and hearing bad crowns.
The JP can only go on the info that is presented to him.
By the sound of it,he should have been held in custody .
Hope you find out the cause of your concern.

Lemon Cake
Reply to  Andrew Allan
15 May 2021 10:27 am

I understand the deep frustration and helplessness folks in Cobourg feel when drug operations like this appear to continue unabated and under everyone’s noses. But what is the policing strategy for addressing drug trafficking in Cobourg? The police annual report highlighted a community partnership which is great. But at the same time and more broadly we know drugs are killing young people here – what’s the overall policing plan to at least shut down John St? Honest question here.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Lemon Cake
15 May 2021 12:08 pm

“… at least shut down John St?

That is a ludicrously totalitarian suggestion.

Reply to  Lemon Cake
15 May 2021 12:37 pm

Lemon Cake:
A sledge hammer to kill a mosquito solution….”shut down John St…”, since it seems “everyone” knows where the problem is…151 John St, according to Jones (which, as Wally correctly points out, doesn’t exist). The question for Chief PV is why haven’t the cops shut this operation down?

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
15 May 2021 8:10 am

Last Oct 15th, the Ministry advertised for recruitment of a JoP position in Cobourg. Their website indicates that the selection process continues….Perhaps there’s a new, inexperienced JoP? Perhaps there is a temporary, JoP filling in on a day-to-day basis? Either way–due to C19, I suspect these recent court procedures might have taken place remotely?
The end result of all these factors, is that we might have a JoP currently that has no clue about our community or local addresses of note.?
In the end–we are not well-served and our Police on the front lines suffer the most.

Deb OConnor
Reply to  Dunkirk
15 May 2021 8:18 pm

I was asked in the 90s to sit on a panel choosing a new JP and enjoyed the process very much. Our pick worked out very well for many years. The only one not happy was a former friend turned tory who didn’t prevail and was furious that their knowledge of a very specific and narrow area of law didn’t seal the deal. I was shocked by their lack of professional discretion; we made the right choice in bypassing them.

Wally Keeler
14 May 2021 10:03 pm

Well, it’s not 151 John St.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 May 2021 10:19 pm

Even people from Brampton know the address🥴

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
14 May 2021 10:36 pm

That’s no big deal. Globe & Mail, below the fold did a story on the hippie/weed connections between Cobourg and Yorkville. Hub of activity in Cobourg was Victoria Park. Late 60s.

Last edited 1 year ago by Wally Keeler
Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 May 2021 5:39 am

This is a big deal! The addresses in Cobourg are as well known as the incompetent Justice(s) of the Peace! This is an issue that requires a long overdue Protest! And Laws must change!

Last edited 1 year ago by marya
Deb OConnor
Reply to  marya
15 May 2021 8:38 pm

Marya: Perhaps you and people like you would be happier living elsewhere. Maybe Newtonville or Belleville might be more to your taste. Or invent a time machine and try the Middle Ages?

Reply to  Deb OConnor
16 May 2021 8:23 am

Such a classic reply, Deb, by stating that people like me should move.

Reply to  marya
16 May 2021 11:03 am

Myra, you will find that a common reply with some on this Board. I have heard it over and over since moving here. If you are not born here, some consider you a second-class citizen of this town. Fortunately, most here are welcoming.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gerald
Elizabeth Greaves
Reply to  Gerald
18 May 2021 3:59 pm

Gerald – When I read your comment, I did have to laugh. When we moved to Cobourg, a kind woman in our church told my mom that she should not worry about being new to town……by the 2nd generation, there would be acceptance.
“Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”.
We arrived in 1945 – and here we are, 2021! Now, there is pushback at newer arrivals (often big city folks) who question, want changes, have helped tip our demographics heavily towards the senior years, etc.
With the exception of the Fenian raids (late 1860s, as I recall hearing), Cobourg has generally done little more than grumble a bit of the rate of change, and newcomers are quickly accepted. Of course, that is easy for me to say, as I was that 2nd generation described by the church friend.

Reply to  Deb OConnor
19 May 2021 8:43 am

Yes I suppose a move would be a good idea any better suggestions
When all the Drug dealers seem to be moving and supplying here are from out of this town . Lets just Enjoy and Control / Protect what we moved here for.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 May 2021 10:56 am

Heroin,fentanyl and meth are a little different than weed. Not much of a comparison

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
15 May 2021 12:19 pm

Although back in the day teens were being busted left right and centre. During the early 70s a special court day was added to the week to deal with all the cases. It took a summer to get through the backlog. I made a bundle of cash reporting on them. Back in the day weed was punishable with imprisonment. That was a big deal to the imprisoned teens and their families. Compare that to the flaccid response of the justice system today. And the flaccid response of citizens.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 May 2021 8:05 pm

Wally, try to join us here in the 21st century.

Deb OConnor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 May 2021 8:32 pm

The summer of ’69 was pure magic. Fresh from Vancouver, it was delightful to be back home and spending the summer nights celebrating our youth and joy at being alive. Wally, do you remember poetry readings, playlets, acoustic guitars and folk songs being performed on the first of the three little hills that lead people from King Street down to the Park and beach? Silly question: I’m sure you do.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deb OConnor
15 May 2021 10:11 pm

Sure do. That was the year Louis opened the coffee house at the abandoned CPR building. Students published the 4th annual anthology of poetry, Refraction. It was the summer when Cobourg artists painted the windows of downtown. Hippies published Phoenix a youth zine. It was also the year that narcs from Peterborough were scooping up teens at night, driving them to dark Swayne Street for a pat down and interrogation.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
15 May 2021 2:30 pm

What does that matter? It’s meaningless.

Last edited 1 year ago by Wally Keeler