2000 CanLII 5759 (ONCA)

In 2000 CanLII 5759 (ONCA), the Crown appealed Mr. B’s conviction suspended sentence and three years’ probation for criminal harassment, assault, uttering threats and failing to comply with judicial interim release orders. The Crown argued that the sentence was unfit considering the seriousness of the crimes.

Mr. B was married but had dated Ms. E before and during his marriage. Ms. E ended the relationship after Mr. B called her cruel names and became violent. He would not accept that the relationship was over and continued to phone her and visit her house and workplace uninvited. Ms. E called the police and requested protection from the harassment. Soon after, Mr. B sent her a long letter that acknowledged the physical abuse and apologized for not leaving her alone but asked her to reconsider the relationship. Ms. E later reported the previous assault and Mr. R was arrested and released on a promise not to contact Ms. E or two of her friends, stay away from Ms. E’s home and workplace, and to not possess a firearm. Ignoring the promises, Mr. B came to Ms. E’s home. Over the next few months, he continued to pursue her at her workplace and home, including threatening her with a fake gun and threatening suicide. He was arrested and released several times. Mr. R was eventually convicted of criminal harassment, assault, uttering threats and failing to comply with judicial interim release orders.

The court of appeal noted that:

Domestic violence and harassment cases most often involve conduct directed by a male spouse or partner against a woman. Yet offenders who feel empowered to harass a partner or former partner with impunity will not necessarily confine their behaviour to that person, but may also harass and terrorize her friends and family members. As this case illustrates, the respondent somehow perceived that his love and need for the complainant allowed him to be an unwanted presence in her life and in the lives of her family and associates, and to threaten and terrorize them to achieve his ends. His irrational actions made him a menace to Ms. Emmett and to those close to her.

Consequently, when an offender like the respondent comes before the court for sentencing, it is important for the court to denounce his conduct in the clearest terms by fashioning a heavy sentence.[1]

Taking into account the serious aggravating factors including an escalating pattern of harassment, threats of homicide and suicide with a realistic looking weapon, failure to comply with release orders, and avoiding the police, the court agreed that the original sentence was unfit. It imposed a sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment, three years’ probation, firearms prohibition, no contact with Ms. E, her two friends or their family members, and counselling.

[1] [2000] OJ No 2558 (ONCA) at para 35-36.

Criminal Offence(s): Criminal Harassment, Sexual Assault