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Man who had torture chamber in basement gets light sentence

Man who had torture chamber in basement gets light sentence

Luke Dean ‘spent a considerable amount of time creating that location for a nefarious purpose,’ court heard

WARNING: Some readers may find details in this story disturbing

LLOYDMINSTER – A man who had a torture chamber in his basement at 4602 – 44 Street, Lloydminster, Sask., was handed a light jail sentence Thursday.

Luke Michael Dean, now 29, appeared in court in person in the prisoner’s box. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail for holding Richard Thorne captive in his basement torture chamber July 29, 2020, threatening to kill him, and robbing him. With credit for time served in remand, Dean only has 146 days left to serve in jail as of April 14.

Several charges against Dean were dropped, including forcible confinement, using or threatening to use a weapon, threatening to cause death, and extortion. He was convicted of robbery.

On Jan. 31 Dean had elected to have a preliminary hearing and a trial by judge alone in Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench. A preliminary hearing on charges of forcible confinement, extortion, assault with a weapon, robbery with a weapon, and uttering threats, was scheduled for April 14 in Lloydminster court. On April 14 in the morning, defence Harvey Neufeld told court that the hearing was going to proceed. In the afternoon, however, Neufeld told the court that he and North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Charlotte Morden had reached a joint agreement and Neufeld re-elected provincial court judge.

Morden told the court that Dean’s co-accused 38-year-old Jason Palsich had already been sentenced on this incident. Palsich pleaded guilty to forcible confinement and was handed a six-month conditional sentence, which means he would serve it in the community. 

Morden said that Palsich acted as Dean’s “enforcer,” and the home was “retrofitted in a unique manner.”

During Palsich’s sentencing hearing in January, the Lloydminster house long rumoured in the area as having a “torture chamber” had that description confirmed.

“What was described to me is a torture chamber,” said North Battleford Judge Kevin Hill in Lloydminster court when he sentenced Palsich on a charge of forcible confinement. 

The existence of the torture chamber unfolded when Rick Thorne escaped after he was bound to a chair, threatened to have his kneecaps broken, and a bat swung at his face.  

Court heard that at approximately 5:10 a.m., on July 30, 2020, Richard Throne called the RCMP and said he was forcibly confined in the basement of Luke Dean’s home. When police spoke to him, he still had duct tape stuck to his shoe and duct tape residue on his left wrist, court heard.

Thorne went to Dean’s house because he heard that Dean was looking for him. Once at the house, Dean ordered Palsich to tie Thorne up in the basement’s torture chamber.  

During Palsich’s sentencing in January, Morden told the court Dean was a known drug dealer and he forced Palsich to bind Thorne to a chair with duct tape.

In disbelief, Palsich asked him if he was serious.

“Yes I’m f         serious,” Dean said as he waved a pipe wrench at Palsich.

At the time, Palsich was staying at the house in his transient lifestyle couch surfing and feared for his safety, so he complied, the court heard in a joint submission between the Crown and defence. Dean gave transient and homeless people “a warm place to stay and drugs,” said Morden.

The court heard that when Palsich was forced to duct tape Thorne to a chair with his hands behind his back he bound him loosely and kept saying, “I’m sorry.”

Being loosely bound helped Throne to eventually escape. Morden told the court that it seems Thorne was in the basement a couple of hours before he freed himself and escaped. 

Dean had “built a cage in the basement,” said Morden during Palsich’s sentencing. The house had a re-enforced steel door with magnetic locks.

“This fact was confirmed by the RCMP when they attended,” said Morden.

“There was a lockdown chamber in the basement. Various rumours and suspicions had flown around in the community with respect to that basement. Dean spent a considerable amount of time creating that location for a nefarious purpose. There was also the production of a fair amount of [drugs] in that basement.”

Morden told the court that two search warrants were executed at the residence. During one search in 2020, the Alberta RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team (CLEAR) were called in to assist.

Morden said no weapon was used on Thorne, who didn’t have any physical injuries. He was robbed of his cellphone, cash, and glasses. Dean was attempting to steal Thorne’s pension by forcing him to log on to his bank account on a laptop.

Morden said the house was a known flophouse in Lloydminster where transient drug addicts often stayed. 

“Those people there may or may not have participated,” said Morden. “It’s not really clear.”

The only witness who ever showed up in court for scheduled preliminary hearings and trials for the two co-accused that never proceeded at least three times was Thorne. Crown told the court that Thorne was “very level-headed.”

Morden said going to trial would have “faced an uphill battle” because of other civilian witnesses not showing.

Dean has good background: Defence

Neufeld made a point of telling the court that Dean’s father is a lawyer in New Brunswick.

He said Dean moved to this area because he had relatives living near Lloydminster. He worked as an electrician apprentice and only has “a couple of hundred hours” left to get certified.

“His intention is to return to that trade,” said Neufeld.

He told the court that Dean lost his job during COVID and he has substance abuse issues.

Court heard that Dean’s criminal record is limited to only an impaired driving conviction.

The Crown asked the court for a forfeiture order of “tools” seized at Dean’s home, which should take about one week. Judge Murray Pelletier said that after they are itemized the list needs to come back before the court and signed off on in agreement by defence.

After Dean is released, he will be on probation for 12 months. Judge Pelletier ordered him to submit his DNA before May 5, and banned him from owning weapons for 10 years.

The house was a known “hotspot for drug use and criminal activity,” and has since been condemned, said Morden during Palsich’s sentencing in January.

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