The Court sentenced an Indigenous woman to a conditional sentence of 24 months followed by a 12 month period of probation for robbery, with conditions including culturally based programmes described in her Gladue report. While her co-accused was sentenced to 10.5 months in prison, the offender’s rehabilitation path, less concerning criminal record, and Gladue factors distinguished her circumstances.
The offender, Ms. McCargar, was found guilty after a trial on one count of robbery. She participated in a robbery of fentanyl patches from a 67-year old victim that had been prescribed this medication for pain. The victim was living alone in a rural area when Ms. McCargar and another offender came to the house in order to rob him.
Ms. McCargar is the mother of 4 children and a grandmother. She currently works full-time hours at a funeral home and volunteers 15 hours per week at a senior’s centre. The offender comes from a disadvantaged background. Her father was alcoholic and abusive who subjected his family to significant trauma. Ms. McCargar also suffered significant abuse and has endured a number of additional traumas as an adult. She has managed to rehabilitate herself from drug addiction and no longer uses alcohol. Currently Ms. McCargar is not in a relationship and lives with two of her children, including one that requires a great deal of assistance.
Ms. McCargar is Metis and did not have the benefit of growing up in her culture, but because of the colour of her skin, she has faced racism. For some time, the offender has been seeking the knowledge, insight and support her culture can bring. She has maintained contact with the Mohawk community in Tyendinaga. Her father taught her to hunt, trap and fish, and she has maintained these practices. Ms. McCargar has a criminal record which involves a number of property offences and includes convictions for assault. The Gladue report and PSR suggest, however, that some of these convictions occurred in the context of domestic relationships where the offender was physically abused by her partner.
According to this Court, the protection of the public is achieved with a conditional sentence, which is best suited to permit the offender to maintain the significant progress she has made towards her rehabilitation and strengthen her supports within her cultural community. Since the offences, Ms. McCargar has led a productive life. Most critically, there is a duty to give meaningful effect to the Gladue principles in this case, and the considerable evidence of the impacts of those factors on the offender. It is appropriate in this case to apply restraint in sentencing to reflect the circumstances that led to this offence and which reduce her moral blameworthiness.
Despite that her co-accused received a sentence of 10.5 months, there are important differences between the offenders in this case. Since Ms. McCargar’s sentence will be served as a conditional sentence with terms of house arrest, the range of sentence is appropriately higher than if a jail sentence were imposed (R v Sharma, 2020 ONCA 478). This means that if the offender is not compliant with the terms of the conditional sentence, she might serve an even longer period of time in jail should she breach the terms of the conditional sentence order. This serves to reinforce the principles of denunciation and deterrence.
Ultimately, in order to give effect to all of the principles of sentencing in this case, the term of the conditional sentence is fixed at 24 months. The first 12 months will be under house arrest, with exceptions for employment and certain other circumstances. During the conditional sentence, Ms. McCargar shall attend for all treatment and counselling that might be deemed appropriate for her by her supervisor, including those programmes described in the Gladue report. This will be followed by a period of probation for 12 months during which time Ms. McCargar is to continue with the culturally based programmes outlined in the Gladue report.