Surrey fraudster’s ‘weak’ bid for release from jail denied

Joseph Bullerwell claimed he never meant to plead guilty and he was unaware his lawyer entered the pleas.

A convicted Surrey fraudster hoping to be released from prison because he didn’t intend to plead guilty has lost his bid for freedom.

The B.C. Court of Appeal this week denied Joseph Bullerwell interim release pending the hearing of his appeal on two counts of fraud.

In April 2012, Bullerwell pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and one of unauthorized use of a credit card. This March, he was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

However, Bullerwell says the guilty pleas were entered on his behalf by his lawyer, and that he had no intention of admitting his guilt.

He has since fired his lawyer.

In April of this year, Bullerwell filed his appeal against the convictions, but a date has not yet been set for the hearing.

Bullerwell has an extensive criminal record and has done time for several firearm and drug offences, theft, and obstructing a peace officer. Just last September he was sentenced to 10 months jail for separate theft and breach of recognizance convictions.

Bullerwell, who said he would live with his common-law wife and child if released and had a full-time job available to him, said his wife and son depended on him financially, but that he couldn’t prepare for his appeal while in custody because he needed access to a computer and law library.

He said he never intended to plead guilty, and thought he was applying for bail. On the day his guilty pleas were entered, he claimed, he was behind plexi-glass and there was chatter from a sheriff’s radio, so he couldn’t fully hear what was going on.

The Appeal Court judge, however, called the appeal “frivolous.” The Crown had argued it was hard to believe that for almost five months between the guilty plea and sentencing, he was not aware he had pleaded guilty.

Madam Justice Nicole Garson agreed.

“This is particularly difficult to accept given that Mr. Bullerwell appeared in court more than eight times after his guilty plea, alongside the same counsel who had represented him at the time the plea was entered,” Garson wrote in her June 18 decision dismissing Bullerwell’s application for release.

“The merits of the appeal are weak,” Garson added. “Mr. Bullerwell has a history of failing to comply with court orders and has missed several court appearances.”

While denying the appeal, Garson did order that the appeal be expedited given that Bullerwell has already served two months of his 10-month sentence.

 

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