R v Christopher Ward, 2019 NBQB 068

Penitentiary sentence ordered for an Indigenous offender after entering a guilty plea. For multiple sentences to be served concurrently, there must be a reasonably close nexus in time and place between the counts and not part of the same unfolding incident that justify treating them as one.

Indigenous Law Centre
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The accused pled guilty for numerous criminal charges including robbery with a firearm, having his face masked with intent to commit an indictable offence, unlawfully entering a dwelling house for the purpose of committing an indictable offence, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. A pre-sentence report was prepared outlining the offender’s “seriously abusive upbringing.” Since the accused was Indigenous, it was necessary for the Court to interpret section 718.2(3) of the Criminal Code. It was determined that it is the analysis mandated by s 718.2(e) and not necessarily the result that is the correct lens through which the Aboriginal offender must be viewed in applying that provision (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218). Once that occurs, the sentencing principles from s 178.2(3) are to be applied.

Since the offender pled guilty to five counts, consideration was given to the application of the principles of consecutive and concurrent sentences regarding each of those offences. In order for the sentences to be served concurrently, there must be a reasonably close nexus in time and place between the counts and not part of the same unfolding incident that justify treating them as one (R v Johnson (1996), 182 NBR (2d) 373). With these principles in mind, the Court reviewed various aggravating and mitigating factors surrounding the crimes and the accused. The most important factor in favour of the offender was that he pled guilty (R v Howe, 2007 NBCA 84). After evaluating the aggravating and mitigating factors, in combination with the accused’s Indigenous background, the court decided on a penitentiary sentence of seven years less time served.

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