R v Kapolak, 2020 NWTTC 12

The NWT Territorial Court found a provision for sexual assault against a minor under the Criminal Code to breach s 12 of the Charter and therefore declined to apply it and ordered a conditional sentence for an Inuk offender with FASD.

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This decision bears in mind the cognitive challenges associated with FASD with the Indigenous accused. It had to balance between the protection of Indigenous victims and the need to implement the Gladue principles for Indigenous offenders. Like provincial courts, the territorial court cannot strike down any provisions but it may become a persuasive precedent for other courts in the territories and elsewhere.

This case involved a single incident, and the victim suffered no apparent injury. This was a bold act, committed on a residential street, in the daytime, as opposed to a surreptitious act committed behind closed doors, on a sleeping victim, or in a context where the victim is physically isolated and cannot get away from the perpetrator. The victim initially did not feel threatened by the accused, because she was familiar with him, and likely because of his diminutive size and almost child-like appearance. But the accused then touched the victim’s body many times and in many places, and he failed to disengage when prompted verbally by her. She had to resort to physical violence to make him stop. This was a crime of opportunity, committed on impulse. The victim was in foster care at the time of the incident. She did not file a Victim Impact Statement, but it is inferred that she is from Inuit ancestry from her name.

Because the mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for six months applies to all offenders having committed any form of sexual assault on a victim aged anywhere between 1 day and 16 years, it is vulnerable to Charter scrutiny. Imposing a sentence of six months in jail on this accused who is a first offender when there are many mitigating factors and when the circumstances of the offence, while being serious, are not too egregious, is fundamentally unfair and as a result, disproportionate. As a result, the accused’s right to be protected against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment is infringed by the mandatory minimum punishment found at section 271(b) of the Criminal Code. The provision is not saved by section 1 of the Charter, and accordingly the mandatory minimum punishment is declined.

The presence of an intellectual disability that affects the accused’s cognitive functions makes it difficult to assess the risk to reoffend. Although present, and in light of other circumstances, the risk is not viewed as high, or determinative. However, the offence of sexual assault is prevalent in Northern communities, 5.3 times the national ratio in 2017. The accused’s early guilty plea is highly mitigating, as it spared the victim from having to testify in court.

The personal circumstances of the accused, which include the diagnosis of Alcohol-Related Neuro-Developmental Disorder, suggest a reduced moral blameworthiness. For a first offender, sentencing usually focuses on rehabilitation. There is nothing to say that a community-based sentence would not work for this accused. The risk to reoffend that this accused presents because of the impulsivity associated with his condition, as well as his intellectual limitation, is compensated by the fact that he benefits from family support. He has a home in which supervision may occur, and he has shown that he is able to comply with conditions.

For an offender with challenges to his executive functions, repetition of instructions, structure, and professional follow-up, appear to be key. A carefully crafted conditional sentence order can bring the necessary restrictions to a person’s freedom while providing rehabilitative tools, and thus achieve deterrence.

The Supreme Court of Canada determined that the standard for finding that a sentence represents a cruel and unusual punishment is that it be grossly disproportionate. An option to preserve the constitutionality of offences that cast a wide net is to provide for residual judicial discretion to impose a fit and constitutional sentence in exceptional cases (R v Lloyd, 2016 1 RCS 13).

In this case, the offender presents with cognitive challenges, and is sentenced more than one year after the commission of the offence. The immediate link between consequence and cause may be lost and as a result a sentence of imprisonment may not achieve the necessary deterrence. Reducing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal offenders is as important an objective as that of protecting vulnerable victims, and must be given equal consideration. The accused is to serve a conditional sentence of imprisonment of 120 days, to be followed by a period of probation of 18 months.

R v Colligan, 2020 BCSC 1139

Rehabilitation can be critically important even for an offence where denunciation and deterrence warrant the most weight. Despite some aggravating circumstances, the Court decided that a conditional sentence was appropriate after considering Gladue factors.

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Mr. Colligan was charged with three counts of trafficking cocaine but did not appear in court for his trial. A warrant was issued and executed for his arrest. He entered guilty pleas and was then released on bail, by consent. Currently, Mr. Colligan has completely turned his life around. That is commendable but the fact that he did so while on the lam presents a challenge at the sentencing stage. As well, the illicit sale of cocaine, particularly by way of dial-a-dope operations, takes a terrible toll on individuals and the community.

This Court has the benefit of a detailed and thoughtfully prepared Gladue report. Mr. Colligan self-identifies as Métis. His childhood was marred by trauma and instability. His mother was apprehended for neglect, and became involved with his father when she was a teenager. Mr. Colligan’s father was a drug-addicted member of the Hell’s Angels. He was emotionally, physically and sexually abusive to his mother. Mr. Colligan’s mother became an alcoholic. Mr. Colligan witnessed his father’s abuse of his mother, which culminated in a horrifying attack when he was five years old. He jumped on his father during the attack and ended up being covered in his mother’s blood. His father was charged with attempted murder and fled.

Following her separation from a second partner, Mr. Colligan’s mother reached out to social services for help, hoping it would be temporary. Mr. Colligan was removed from his mother’s care and placed in a series of private foster homes and group homes until he aged out of foster care. Mr. Colligan grew up feeling abandoned by his mother. He himself has had children from different partners, whom he does not have a relationship with.

While on the lam, Mr. Colligan had accumulated an unenviable criminal record consisting of seven youth and 15 adult convictions. However, he broke away from all negative associations when he developed a healthy relationship with his current partner, who now have two young children. Mr. Colligan began attending NA and AA meetings. He found employment in the oil industry and has been steadily employed since that time. As of the date of the sentencing hearing, he was working as a well site supervisor with a production testing company and had an annual income of $180,000. He is the sole income earner for his family. He works in a drug-free environment and is subject to mandatory drug testing. After some initial set-backs, with the support of his family, NA, AA and some counselling funded by his employee assistance program, Mr. Colligan has been clean and sober for a number of years.Mr. Colligan’s self-reports of his changed lifestyle are supported by a number of letters of support from his partner, friends and co-workers.

Mr. Colligan is disconnected from his Métis heritage. That was the goal of Canada’s historic assimilationist policies. Looking forward, Mr. Colligan hopes to connect with his Métis heritage. He has applied for a Métis citizenship card. He hopes that understanding more about his heritage and culture will help him to build his self-esteem, re-instate his value system and continue to lead a pro-social life.

In this case there are a number of aggravating factors. Mr. Colligan has a significant prior record, including convictions for possession for the purpose of trafficking. Mr. Colligan committed the offences at issue shortly after completing his 14-month custodial sentence for his prior trafficking convictions. He was a principal participant in an active and ongoing dial-a-dope operation, that demonstrates a level of sophistication in the operation. As well, Mr. Colligan evaded justice for almost six years.

The case law clearly establishes that denunciation and deterrence are the primary sentencing principles in a case such as this. A fit sentence must recognize the particularly harmful effects of trafficking cocaine by way of dial-a-dope operations and discourage flight from justice. At the same time, the Court must not lose sight of the importance of rehabilitation in providing for the long-term protection of the community. Canada’s assimilation policies have had a profoundly negative effect on Mr. Colligan and his family. As a result, Mr. Colligan developed a drug addiction that led directly to his past criminal lifestyle. He has overcome many hurdles and barriers to completely turn his life around and is now taking responsibility for his actions.

While Mr. Colligan must be punished for his offences and not rewarded for absconding, he is in the process of breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma and dysfunction that has so negatively affected so many Indigenous families, including his own. Sending Mr. Colligan to jail would leave his children without their father for a significant period of time and vulnerable to poverty and dislocation. A highly restrictive conditional sentence is ordered of two years less one day and will adequately address denunciation and deterrence, particularly in view of Mr. Colligan’s reduced level of moral blameworthiness.

R v McKay, 2020 MBQB 106

The Gladue analysis in this sentencing decision included attention to both the systemic and background factors of the Indigenous offender and his victim, which in this case were significant and central enough to make rehabilitation the key sentencing principle.

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Mr. McKay, a young Indigenous man from Berens River First Nation, a remote settlement 300 km by air north of Winnipeg, pled guilty to manslaughter. Upon returning home extremely intoxicated, he severely beat his mother who did not recover from her injuries and died months later. During the time she was comatose in a Winnipeg hospital, he was overheard at her bedside, sobbing and saying he was sorry. A stepbrother confronted him and Mr. McKay admitted he had hurt his mother. After her death, he was arrested a month later. He told police that he had hit her with a “glass thing”, and could not say why he attacked her.

This decision deals with setting a fit and appropriate sentence for Mr. McKay for this crime, in these circumstances. A Probation Services Pre-sentence Report [“PSR”] and an independent Gladue report was ordered, which in part connected Canada’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples to Mr. McKay and the killing. It is well accepted that the Government’s role, since the early days of dealing with First Nations peoples, has had the effect of isolating, infantilizing, marginalizing, and traumatizing Indigenous societies like the Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe) of Berens River. These effects on Mr. McKay’s traditional community set the context for his life and experiences.

Mr. McKay’s upbringing was horrible. He has 12 brothers and sisters that were often raised in foster homes. Intermittently, he would be returned to the custody of his mother and father, but his relationship with his family was fractured. His parents struggled with alcohol and sniffing, which he ultimately started at age 13. He is not close to his brothers or sisters, some of whom have died. Family empathy and support is non-existent. Mr. McKay’s father died of alcohol abuse, and they were not close. Mr. McKay and his mother were very close, and supported and depended upon each other. He loved her and is deeply affected by having killed her.

Mr. McKay was formally diagnosed with partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (“pFAS”) at 24 months. He continues to suffer physical, cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Child and Family Services files indicate that Mr. McKay was neglected because of the family’s chronic alcohol addiction, solvent sniffing, domestic abuse and family violence. He would often be the target of teasing and beatings by his brothers, and even now has been threatened by some siblings, who say they would kill him if he returned to Berens River. For the most part, while Mr. McKay has been in custody since his arrest in October 2018, he has done well, including taking many programs. Importantly, he wants a good future but does not have a real idea or plan of how to get there.

A sentence imposed on an accused for a serious crime should be tailor-made in the sense that, mindful of principles of sentencing, it is appropriate to the circumstances of the offence and the particulars of the offender. The critical issue is to determine a sentence that would benefit and protect the community, as well as provide the best prospects of rehabilitation for Mr. McKay. Gladue factors loom large, which affect the assessment of moral culpability for this grievous offense. His moral blameworthiness is high, but not as high as it would otherwise have been but for Gladue factors, including his pFAS. In balancing all of the factors, rehabilitation must be an overarching concern. While denunciation and deterrence are important factors, they are moderated by the unusual circumstances here.

Mr. Kay is sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, from which 26 months’ time-in-custody credit shall be deducted for a go-forward custody sentence of 24 months less one day, as well as three years of supervised probation with conditions.

R v Grandinetti, 2020 ABQB 416

Experiences of racism is a Gladue factor, and there is relevance of credible employment opportunities for the Aboriginal accused that has informed the design of a fit and proper sentence in this matter.

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Mr. Grandinetti was closely involved in the process of creating fraudulent documentation which he used to effect registration of six stolen trailers in his own name in order to facilitate the transfer of the trailers to others, including at least one innocent purchaser. He also physically possessed each of the stolen travel trailers, and knew each was stolen. He was not charged with a “possession offence” in respect of two of the trailers. He trafficked two of the travel trailers he knew were stolen. As well, he possessed two of them for the purpose of trafficking them.

Mr. Grandinetti’s crimes are not accurately described as sophisticated or involving a high degree of planning, at least not on his part. He was not charged with the theft of any of the six travel trailers with which he was involved and the evidence presented did not suggest he was involved in any theft. The actual mechanism of the deception in which he participated was relatively simple. He did not invent or design it.

Even before the sentencing principle established by s 718.2(2)(e) of the Criminal Code and considering Gladue factors, the circumstances of Mr. Grandinetti’s offences do not require that priority be given to deterrence, denunciation and separation over the other purposes of sentencing, rehabilitation, reparation and promotion of a sense of responsibility.

Mr. Grandinetti is the child of an Italian father and a Cree mother. He has a younger brother and an older half brother. As a child Mr. Grandinetti witnessed his father being physically abusive to his mother. His parents divorced when he was 15. When Mr. Grandinetti was 17 years old and in high school, his mother was murdered by his cousin. Evidence at the murder trial indicated that the cousin had been paid by Mr. Grandinetti’s father to murder his mother. There was an ongoing child support arrears dispute between Mr. Grandinetti’s parents at the time.

The Gladue Report indicates that Mr. Grandinetti’s brothers reported that their grandmother attended residential school and that the experience caused her to be “a mean and angry person at times”. She struggled with alcohol. But Mr. Grandinetti’s younger brother credits the grandmother with keeping the family together.

Mr. Grandinetti’s father forbade him from participating in Cree cultural activities and tradition, and not even to reveal his Cree heritage to anyone. He learned to attach shame to that heritage. The Gladue report writer noted that Mr. Grandinetti has strong and positive support from his brother and his brother’s family. There are culturally relevant and mainstream healing resources available to him which he has never attempted to access, in part, due to the shame of his Cree heritage instilled in him by his father.

Mr. Grandinetti is sentenced to a global 18 months of that includes 4-6 months incarceration, with the rest to be served in the community pursuant to a conditional sentence order, followed by a three year probation order. Upon his employment, he is to pay restitution.

 

R c Charlish, 2020 QCCQ 2438

In keeping with the sentencing principles, including a focus on Gladue factors, the Aboriginal accused has been granted a last chance of a total sentence of 90 days to be served intermittently and supervised probation that includes an essential focus on therapy.

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The accused is an Aboriginal person who is a member of the Mashteuiatsh Innu Nation. Paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code provides that the court must take into consideration all available sanctions, other than imprisonment with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.

In 2018, the accused entered a guilty plea to a charge of trafficking cocaine. Presentence and Gladue reports (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252) were ordered. Despite the presence of aggravating factors, such as objective gravity and the scourge of drugs in the community, the court accepted the defence’s position and imposed an intermittent sentence of 60 days with two years’ probation, including 18 months with supervision, and 100 hours of community work.

The accused continued to use cannabis but reduced the quantity and for a time stayed away consumption. During submissions on sentencing in this matter, the Court granted the application of counsel to file the presentence and Gladue reports that were previously prepared because they remained relevant. The reports highlighted that since childhood, the accused has been exposed to instability, violence, and substance use. He is aware of the problem and has consulted an addiction counselor, but has not managed to remain abstinent. The accused has a spouse with substance abuse issues as well, with whom he lives with, along with their two young children in the Mashteuiatsh community.

The Court asked for information on the programs available in the community. There are no justice committees in Mashteuiatsh. The Court refers to the work of the “Viens Commission”, a Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec that focus on listening, reconciliation and progress. The Viens Commission describes the roles and responsibilities of justice committees as varying with each community’s needs and priorities. In general, it can be said that their goal is to offer an alternative to or complement the structures of the existing justice system. They take care of a number of things, including diversion, sentencing recommendations, supervised probation, suspended sentences, conditional release, authorized leave, crime prevention and community support such as healing circles, offender reintegration and citizen mediation.

However, there are other resources available in Mashteuiatsh to all types of clients. There is a housing resource that is a community organization that some members of the Mashteuiatsh community attend. It helps those suffering from issues related to substance abuse or addiction. With respect to Aboriginal clients, there is the Centre Kapatakan Gilles-Jourdain in Mani-Utenam, near Sept-Îles. It is an organization accredited by the Ministère de la Sécurité publique whose mission is to provide services adapted to Aboriginal values and traditions to Innu adults and other First Nations members, with the objective of healing and rehabilitation. There is also the Wapan rehabilitation centre in La Tuque. It provides treatment and follow-up services to First Nations adults. Mashteuiatsh social services can also provide support and direct a person to the appropriate resources, to the extent that they are willing and participate in the follow-up required.

In this case, the accused has been noted as open and cooperative. Before his relapse, he had made sincere efforts to change. The accused decided to testify and was transparent and described his drug addiction. He now realizes that he must get to the root of the problem and that long-term therapy is needed even if that causes him to be away from his family. He realizes that he is reproducing for his children the conditions that has led to his own substance use.

Cocaine trafficking is an objectively serious offence, for which the offender is liable to imprisonment for life. What is more, this case concerns a subsequent occurrence of the same offence for which the accused was convicted a few months earlier, along with a breach of probation. However, the Court cannot ignore the unique systemic and background factors that are mitigating in nature in that they have played a part in the Aboriginal offender’s conduct. The Supreme Court of Canada urges sentencing judges to address the sources of the problem rather than reproducing the “revolving door cycle in the courts” (R v Gladue; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218).

The accused is granted a last chance with a total sentence of 90 days to be served intermittently and supervised probation including the essential focus on therapy. To prioritize that initiative and taking into consideration the accused’s family obligations, the Court will not add community work.

R v JP, 2020 SKCA 52

Leave to appeal granted and appeal allowed from sentence. Pursuant to s 687(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, the sentence of an Indigenous offender for two robberies is varied. It is ordered he serve concurrent sentences of five years in relation to each of these two crimes, with a global sentence of eight years less credit for time spent on remand.

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This appeal concerns the proper sentencing of an accused who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [“FASD”] and whose personal circumstances called for application of the principles set out in R v Gladue,  [1999] 2 CNLR 252 [“Gladue”]. The offender, who is of Indigenous ancestry, was convicted of being a party to two armed robberies. He also pleaded guilty to several other offences. For all of these crimes, he was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced by the sentencing judge to a global sentence of ten years less credit for time spent on remand.

The offender had an extensive criminal record with over 70 convictions that pre-dated these matters. A Gladue report was prepared that recounted the history of his family and community. The extreme poverty, minimal educational opportunities, and overcrowded and deficient housing experienced by the offender’s parents cannot be captured in a few words, but the outcome was a life of family dysfunction, substance and alcohol abuse, and violence.

The offender’s grounds of appeal must be examined in light of the applicable standard of review. He took the position in this Court, that the judge committed several errors in principle and, in any event, that the global sentence is demonstrably unfit.

The factors indicated the offender has reduced moral blameworthiness. These factors were overwhelming and their connection to the offences cannot be credibly denied. This is not a case where the connection between the “systemic and background factors that have contributed significantly to [the offender’s] circumstances, and to his appearances before the criminal courts of this province” is elusive. It is impossible not to see a direct connection between these factors and the specific crimes for which the offender was being sentenced. Cause and effect are not required, but the facts of this case come as close as most any situation could (R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218). The Court determined the judge erred in principle by failing to account for the systemic and background factors (including FASD) that was earlier identified as having contributed significantly to the offender’s circumstances and his commission of these offences.

This Court cannot interfere with a sentence simply because a judge has committed an error in principle. It must also conclude that the error had an impact on sentence (R v Lacasse, 2015 SCC 64). In this matter, the impact of the judge’s error is evident from his treatment of the precedent he relied upon to identify a fit sentence. This Court has no hesitation in concluding that the failure to account for the offender’s reduced moral culpability had a decisive impact on the sentence the judge imposed in this case.

The judge determined that a fit sentence for each robbery was seven years’ imprisonment, running consecutively. In connection with a housebreaking offence, it was determined that a fit sentence to be two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to the sentences for the two robberies. It was determined that a fit sentence for the remaining crimes was 12 months, concurrent on all those offences, but consecutive to the robbery and housebreaking offences. All of this would result in a combined sentence of 17 years, which the judge reduced to a global sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. This was achieved by directing that the robbery sentences be served concurrently, not consecutively.

Although this Court is to sentence afresh, the only point of criticism that can be offered to the judge’s sentencing decision is the failure to account for the offender’s reduced moral culpability when it came time to fix a sentence. Considering the guidance provided by the case law, and given the offender’s reduced moral culpability through the appropriate assessment of his FASD and other Gladue considerations, a fit sentence in this case should remain within the range identified in previous case law, but at its low end. A sentence of five years’ imprisonment on each robbery conviction will fall at the low end of the range (R v Kirklon, 2015 SKCA 67), properly denounce the offender’s unlawful conduct, and not separate him from society for longer than necessary. Expert evidence suggests that there are ways the public could be protected by managing the offender in the community once he has served his sentence.

R v Duncan, 2020 BCSC 590

Application granted. The Indigenous accused is to be released on bail, subject to stringent conditions, on the tertiary grounds for pre-trial custody in excess of 90 days and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in jails.

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This matter is a detention review hearing pursuant to s 525 of the Criminal Code. The 32 year old accused from Musqueam First Nation has been in pre trial custody for ten months. His custody relates to multiple alleged offences, including breaking and entering. As per the Gladue factors, his life reflects the intergenerational legacy of the horrific historical treatment of Aboriginal peoples in this country. The accused has a lengthy criminal history.

Counsel for the accused provided new evidence combined with a change in circumstances that warrants a re-visiting and reassessment of the restrictive and supervised treatment program at VisionQuest as a viable and proportionate alternative to the accused’s continued detention. It has culturally relevant programming and a high level of supervision.

The overarching question before the Court is whether the continued detention of the accused until his trial(s) is still justified on one or more of the three grounds specified in s 515(10) of the Criminal Code (R v Myers, 2019 SCC 18). The Court is satisfied that a release plan requiring the accused’s participation in VisionQuest’s isolated residential treatment program combined with strict mobility restrictions would be a culturally responsive and appropriate application of the Gladue factors in this particular case.

There also remains the question of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the case law that has developed thus far on this subject deals with the tertiary ground for detention. There are an increasing number of cases which have held that the risk of infection posed to inmates while incarcerated in detention centers awaiting trials is also a valid factor when considering the secondary ground for detention specified in s 515(10)(b) of the Criminal Code (R v TK, 2020 ONSC 1935).

The government is well aware of the risks involved and has implemented a number of measures designed to reduce the spread of the infection in jails. In this particular case Court already concluded that the accused’s proposed release plan satisfactorily addresses public safety concerns, however, COVID-19 concerns would have tipped the balance in favour of interim release rather than continued detention on secondary grounds. Although the break and enter offenses are serious, no physical violence was involved.

The accused is a drug addict with a criminal history of property crimes fuelled by his addiction. That addiction and most, if not all, of the disadvantages he has suffered in life are the product of the sad social problem that is the legacy of the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

R v Hartling, 2020 ONCA 243

Conviction appeal dismissed. Sentence appeal allowed in part along with a stay of a second breach of probation charge. The Crown tried to rely on the delays involved in obtaining a Gladue report to justify the post-verdict delay.

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Following an afternoon of heavy drinking with her adult son and boyfriend, the complainant was seriously assaulted. She told first responders that her son was responsible. The son was charged. The mother testified for the Crown that her son attacked her and her boyfriend following an argument. Months later the trial resumed. This time the mother testified for the defence. She changed her testimony and said that it was her boyfriend, not her son, who attacked her.

The trial judge convicted her son for aggravated assault against his mother, assault causing bodily harm against the boyfriend and two counts of breach of probation. He was given a global sentenced of 30 months in custody. After considerable delays, the trial judge found the appellant guilty of aggravated assault against his mother, her boyfriend along with resisting arrest and two counts of breach of probation. Following 8.2 months of pretrial custody, he was sentenced to 21.8 months of incarceration.

The son appealed his convictions and sentence. However, the post-verdict delay was determined unacceptable to this Court. It took 14 months after conviction for the sentence to be imposed. This delay was not caused by ineffective judicial management. It was not caused by the appellant, nor was it caused directly by the actions of the prosecutor. It was caused by the lack of institutional resources to obtain a Gladue report. Immediately upon conviction, trial counsel obtained an order for a Gladue report from the trial judge. However, court administration services denied funding. Ultimately, the appellant, with the assistance of his counsel, chose to pay privately. The issue of post-verdict delay was addressed by this Court in R V Charley, 2019 ONCA 726 [“Charley”], where a presumptive ceiling of five months was set for the time from verdict to sentence.

In an attempt to justify the delay, the Crown alleged extraordinary circumstances because of the issues with the Gladue report and because the case was already in the system when Charley was decided. The Court does not accept that the circumstances are exceptional. It cannot be said that it is exceptional to require a Gladue report in the Algoma district where there is a large Indigenous population. Gladue reports were created in order to address systemic injustice that uniquely affects Indigenous offenders, and which leads to overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. A long delay undermines the purpose of the Gladue report by creating another level of unfairness. Moreover, to submit that the preparation of such a report is exceptional is untenable.

The appellant was entitled to a Gladue report, the trial judge ordered it, and subsequently relied on it. According to R v Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the new framework, including the presumptive ceiling, applies to cases currently in the system, subject to qualifications but these qualifications do not apply in this matter. A 14-month delay was unreasonable and breached the appellant’s s 11(b) Charter rights.

A stay of a valid conviction would impact public confidence in the administration of justice. The possibility of vacating a valid conviction based on sentencing delay is “an unjustified windfall” for the accused (Betterman v Montana, 578 US, 136 S. Ct. 1609). The appropriate and just remedy here should target the sentence, not the conviction. The appellant was convicted of a violent offence against his mother in her home. It would bring the administration of justice into disrepute to stay the conviction. For the remedy to target the sentence, it must be based on and align with sentencing principles. The sentence is reduced by five months.

R v Lemieux, 2020 ONCJ 54

The Court did not believe the offender’s late, uncorroborated and inconsistent claim that he is a person of First Nations heritage. He is sentenced to 26 months for the possession of child pornography contrary to s 163(4) of the Criminal Code.

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Just over a year prior, the offender entered a guilty plea to a single count that he did, without lawful excuse, possess child pornography in the form of videos and images contrary to section 163(4) of the Criminal Code. The Crown elected to proceed by way of indictment. Leading up to sentencing, there was preparation of a pre-sentence report, a Sexual Behaviours Assessment and a Gladue report.

The Ottawa Police Service initiated an investigation into the possession and sharing of suspected child pornography by following the information of an IP address that identified and led them to locate the offender’s home address. A search warrant was executed on the residence and the offender was placed under arrest. A desktop computer was seized as well as an external hard drive. There were 6617 images of child pornography and 611 videos of child pornography.

Although Gladue factors could be relevant to a sentencing for possession of child pornography, the offender brought this claim forward especially late in the proceedings after he was expressly provided opportunity to claim First Nations heritage. He was adopted at six months into a Franco-Ontarian family and therefore the source of ethnicity would be his birth parents. He could only recall his mother’s first name. The Court did not ultimately believe the offender’s late, uncorroborated and inconsistent claim that he is a person of First Nations heritage.

Overall, in the circumstances in this case, the record did not reflect a situation where credit should be given due to the restrictive nature of the bail conditions. Further, the court was not convinced on a balance of probabilities that the offender had been making serious and consistent efforts towards rehabilitation and thus not able to receive any credit.

An important case in Ontario involving sentencing for the possession of child pornography is R v Inksetter, 2018 ONCA 474 [“Inksetter“], and in the present matter the offender’s collection was nowhere near as large and while vile, did not seem to have been of the same level of depravity as that in Inksetter. He was cooperative with police while arrested, he plead guilty, complied with the conditions of his bail and had been a model resident at the John Howard Bail Bed Program. However, there was no clear indication the offender was truly remorseful. His cavalier attitude towards treatment lead the court to believe he had no true insight into his pedophilia. The age of children, size of collection and nature of acts depicted were aggravating. The most aggravating was his prior criminal record which consisted entirely of sexual assaults against children. This single factor alone would make a reformatory sentence inappropriate. Based on the foregoing, a sentence of twenty-six months was appropriate with the ancillary orders put forward by the Crown granted.

R v Paulson, 2020 ONCJ 86

After weighing the Gladue Report and other sentencing principles with the circumstances of the offender, 338 days of time served plus one day concurrent was imposed for the guilty plea of three offences.

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The 28 year old Indigenous offender pled guilty to three counts of Aggravated Assault, Breach of Recognizance, and Assault. The Court read about the offender’s personal circumstances in a Gladue Report and also had the opportunity to hear from her and her family during a sentencing circle. Following the sentencing principles of s 718 of the Criminal Code, it was necessary for the sentencing judge to analyze the circumstances of the offences and determine the weight of those factors while simultaneously considering the principles of denunciation and deterrence.

The offender is a single mother of four children. Her grandparents attended Residential School, which has had a tremendous impact on her mother, and herself. While growing up, she spent significant periods with relatives and friends before she was placed into foster care where she experienced childhood neglect and sexual abuse. The offender became pregnant at the age of fifteen and began abusing illicit substances while also entering into physically abusive relationships with men. She continued to have three additional children but has lost custody of all four. Losing her children caused the offender to experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [“PTSD”], and she spiralled downward into further drug abuse. She did not have a prior criminal record.

It was accepted by the Court that the offender’s criminal actions were the result of extreme intoxication and that she had no memory of the events in question. Aggravating factors were considered including that the assaults were unprovoked, the assaults involved the use of a knife, the offender was on bail during the time of the attacks and was prohibited from possessing weapons, and the level of violence was significant. The mitigating factors included the fact that the offender pled guilty, she had no prior criminal record, her background as an Indigenous person impacted her life, she had PTSD at the time of the offences, and she was remorseful for her actions. It was decided that an appropriate sentence was one that would reflect the time that she had already served.