R v Brown, 2020 BCPC 137

The Court found the sentences in their aggregate to be unduly harsh and disproportionate. The sentences were adjusted to arrive at an appropriate global sentence that considered circumstances such as the defendant’s Indigenous heritage, hope of rehabilitation and his relatively young age.

Indigenous Law Centre – CaseWatch Blog

Mr. Brown, the defendant, is a 26-year old man who discharged a firearm in the hallways of a lodging house. He then went to a nearby house and struck a resident with the firearm. At the time of the incident, Mr. Brown was bound by a 10-year weapons prohibition, which prohibited him from possessing firearms. This prohibition was imposed after he had been sentenced for a drug offence three years prior. Mr. Brown pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm, unlawful possession of a restricted firearm, assault with a weapon and breach of a prohibition order. The Crown urged the Court to impose a global sentence of six and a half years, while counsel for Mr. Brown urged for a global sentence of five years.

The Court had the benefit of reading a Gladue report that was previously prepared for Mr. Brown for his earlier drug conviction. Findings in the report noted that many of the systemic background facts that impact Indigenous peoples in Canada have also impacted Mr. Brown, including substance abuse, criminal history, family breakdown, and racism. While the Court was able to recognize how these factors have contributed to Mr. Brown’s offences, these factors did not equate to an automatic reduction in sentence (R v Gladue, [1999] 1 SCR 688).

The case law clearly establishes that the risk posed by firearms demands a sentence that denounces and deters (R v Oud, 2016 BCCA 332; R v Guha, 2012 BCCA 423). The Court found that a fit sentence in this case must adequately meet the objectives of denunciation and deterrence, however, it must not lose sight of the importance of rehabilitation. Mr. Brown’s relatively young age and accessibility to Indigenous centered programs both within his community and through correctional institutions were taken into consideration. The Court found the sentences in their aggregate to be disproportionate and destructive to any hope of rehabilitation. As a result, the sentences were adjusted, and Mr. Brown received a sentence of 5 years 9 months.

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