A Nova Scotia man who owes more than $ 500,000 in child support is broke and unable to pay the money, his lawyer said in a court hearing on Monday.
Attorney Brian Bailey called for a sentence of 18 months to two and a half years for his client Joseph Patrick Power, arguing that another sentence would be similar to debtors’ prison.
Power declined to testify at the hearing but tearfully apologized to the court, his parents and his ex-wife.
“I’m so sorry. We can do better. I can do better,” he said.
Several court disregard warrants have been sought, both for failing to attend court and for failing to pay child support in 2014.
He was arrested in Montreal last month and returned to Nova Scotia to be sentenced. The power remains in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside.
To win his release, Power must “clean up” his contempt of the court by paying what he owes.
Power’s current wife, Tara Power, testified that the family lived on their credit cards and lived without furniture in their Montreal apartment for a while.
She told the court that her husband had not been given photo identification because his passport had been confiscated for non-payment. Without identification, he was unable to get the specialized cardiac and haematological care he needed because he cannot establish a Quebec residence.
Angela Power is the ex-wife of Joseph Power. (CBC)
Igor Yushchenko, the attorney for Power’s ex-wife Angela Power, called for a maximum of five years in prison plus fines of $ 276,000.
He pointed out that a Nova Scotia court had already found that Joseph Power’s company was charging up to $ 20,000 per month for years when he was not making support payments.
The court also found that Power had transferred money outside of Canada.
Yushchenko compared the situation to the high-profile case of Vrege Armoyan in Nova Scotia, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2015 for failing to pay support.
The power promised the court to “do its best” to rectify the situation.
“I’m a man of my word. That’s all I have,” he said.
Justice Elizabeth Jollimore is expected to announce her sentence on Tuesday afternoon.