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It’s usually not the best sign for a convicted person when the judge asks the Crown and defence if they wish to make any further submissions because he might hand down a heavier sentence than has been asked for.
That was the case Thursday for a young west coast man recently convicted of sex offences stemming from a relationship he had with a 13-year-old girl.
He was given a 10-month sentence, three months more than what the Crown had requested in provincial court in Corner Brook.
The 21-year-old man, who was 19 at the time of the offences, cannot be named because of a court-ordered publication ban protecting the girl’s identity.
He was found guilty by Judge Wayne Gorman of nine offences, including sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and a series of seven court order breaches.
The sexual contact between the two, which involved kissing and a denied request to digitally penetrate the girl, happened during a period of three or four weeks in the spring of 2015. The relationship ended when the girl’s mother contacted the police after the man had communicated to the mother his intention to continue the relationship.
After being arrested and charged with having sexual contact with a person who was not old enough to legally consent, the man failed to attend the police station for identification purposes and failed to appear in court, as he was required to do.
He also failed to show up for the start of his trial for these charges March 2. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he has been in custody ever since his arrest later that day.
Crown prosecutor Brenda Duffy said a period of five to seven months in prison was an appropriate sentence, given the man’s nine prior convictions. Those offences included break and entry, uttering a threat, carrying a prohibited weapon in a motor vehicle and five convictions for breaching various court orders.
Duffy’s submission included giving the man the minimum prescribed penalty of 90 days for the sex offences.
Defence lawyer Peter Chaffey said five months was enough jail time, agreeing the man should only be given the minimum sentence for the sex-related charges. He also noted his client has had a hard upbringing, having lived on his own since the age of 14, but plans to avail of educational programming while incarcerated.
Gorman decided to sentence the man to 10 months in prison. He gave him 120 days for the invitation to sexual touching offence, to be served concurrently with 90 days for sexual interference.
The remaining extra jail time, compared to what the Crown had asked for, included a month more for a breach of probation and another month more for failure to appear and breach of undertaking offences.
Gorman said he took into consideration the fact the man was considerably older than the girl, knew how young she was, continued to see her despite her mother’s protestation and did all of this while bound by a probation order.
The judge also noted that past non-custodial sentences do not seem to have deterred the man from breaching court orders.
“A period of 10 months of imprisonment is not unduly long or harsh, in the sense that it is not disproportionate to the gravity of the offences and his degree of responsibility,” Gorman said in his written decision on the case.
The man was given a credit of 21 days for the 14 days time served prior to his conviction and sentencing.
In addition to the prison sentence, the man will be placed on probation for a year upon his release, with a condition to have no contact with the victim and one other witness involved in the case.
He will also be placed on the national sex offender registry for 10 years and will be banned for the same amount of time from attending any public parks, pools, playgrounds or areas where children under the age of 16 might be expected to frequent.
The man will also be prohibited from possessing weapons or ammunition for five years and must provide authorities with a sample of his DNA.