June 28, 2018
Hilton, St-Pierre, Roy
Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court fixing the appellant’s period of ineligibility for parole at 17 years. Dismissed.
On December 6, 2015, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of second degree murder of his two young children. In 2008, the children’s mother began a romantic relationship with another man. The accused became aware of this relationship in January 2009 and left the family residence. On February 20, 2009, his former spouse informed him that she had changed the locks to the house. That evening, the accused took care of the children and, after reading emails exchanged between his former spouse and her new spouse, he decided to commit suicide by drinking windshield wiper fluid. From that moment on, his testimony is vague and imprecise. He said that he did not want his children to find his body and decided to end their lives. He took a knife and stabbed them. The appellant presented a defence based on s. 16 of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46) (Cr. C.), which the jury rejected. The judge sentenced the appellant to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and fixed the period of his ineligibility for parole at 17 years.
In light of R. v. Lacasse (S.C. Can., 2015-12-17), 2015 SCC 64, SOQUIJ AZ-51239148, 2016EXP-59, J.E. 2016-20,  3 S.C.R. 1089, the Court had to answer fundamental questions: did the 17-year period of ineligibility for parole deviate from the proper sentencing range, and if so, did the trial judge commit an error of law or principle that had an impact on the sentence, in light of the gravity of the offence and the appellant’s degree of responsibility?
The gravity of the crime is not in doubt. The appellant’s degree of responsibility is complete because he alone is responsible for the two murders. Moreover, whether he acted to spare his children the spectre of seeing their father dead or because of his animus against his former spouse, the fact remains that the jury rejected the expert evidence adduced by the appellant in support of a verdict that he was not criminally responsible based on his having lost contact with reality. While the trial judge could have chosen to give more weight than he did to the appellant’s s.16 Cr. C. defence when establishing the duration of his period of ineligibility, it certainly was not an error of law to have failed to do so in light of the balance of the evidence he considered, including the tender age of the two young victims and the absence of any significant mitigating factors. The period of ineligibility of 17 years imposed by the judge is not unusual or disproportionate given the circumstances and taking account of similar cases across Canada.
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