Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Ontario Judge Strikes Down Conservative Government Minimum Sentence Provision
Anne Molloy an Ontario Superior Court judge said the Conservative Government's three year minimum sentence for possessing an illegal and loaded firearm was cruel and unusual punishment in the case of Leroy Smickle.
Police burst into the apartment where he was staying as he posed taking photos of himself with a loaded, cocked, illegal handgun. The police were not even looking for Smickle but for his cousin who lived in the apartment. The gun Smickle was holding belonged to his cousin!
Molloy noted that Smickle has no criminal record, that he was not in a public space and was not pointing the gun at anyone. Cruel and Unusual punishment she argued is in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She therefore sentenced him to a year of house arrest.
When questioned in parliament the prime minister Stephen Harper said simply that Canadians think that courts are too soft on gun crimes. Although Molloy agreed that the government is well within its rights in increasing the severity of sentences to deter crimes but that judges ought to have the discretion to apply common sense in exceptional cases such as that of Smickle. For more see this article. No doubt the government will appeal the decision costing the taxpayer more money to feed the Conservative appetite for drastic measures.