Ian Nordheimer imposed an eight-year and four-month sentence against Jermaine
Grant, in an unusual proceeding where the Crown played a hip-hop video in court
as part of its submission that the defendant was part of a northwest
that assumption is correct, then people who repeatedly violate that basic tenet
of our society and expose the rest of us to the significant risks associated
with such conduct must face meaningful consequences. To impose lesser penalties
not only undermines the importance of that belief, it runs the very real risk
of turning the sanctions for such actions into nothing more than a licensing
fee for bad behaviour," said Nordheimer.
22, was convicted by a jury in August of illegally possessing a loaded
semi-automatic handgun after a police pursuit in the Rexdale section of Toronto. He was also
convicted of breach of recognizance and possession of a small amount of crack
cocaine. The sentences for those offences were imposed concurrently to the gun
who the Crown alleged was a member of the Doomstown Crips street gang, had a
lengthy youth record and a 2002 adult conviction for possession of a restricted
weapon. He was subject to four separate weapons prohibition orders at the time
of his arrest on his latest charges.
attorney Matthew Boswell argued for the maximum 10-year term to be imposed
against Grant, but he was clearly pleased with the sentence after a proceeding
that was widely reported in the local Toronto
think this will send a very strong message, coming on the heels of the 'summer
of the gun,'" said Boswell after the sentencing, in reference to the wave of
shootings in Toronto
lawyer Anna Martin of Pinkofskys asked for a total sentence of four years,
including credit for pre-trial custody. She noted that the equivalent of a
22-month sentence was imposed against Grant for his 2002 gun possession
conviction and submitted he should receive no more than double that sentence
under the "jump effect" or "step principle."
rejected her argument. A four-year term would "patently fail" to achieve
sentencing objectives, said the judge, suggesting the "jump effect" applies
only when rehabilitation is a significant factor.
noted that Grant told police that "jail and death" are the only two certainties
is not the sentiment of a person who is looking to change his ways," said the
Crown ordered a copy of Nordheimer's ruling the same day it was issued and
Martin said she expects it will be used by prosecutors in other gun possession
cases. The defence lawyer suggested, however, the ruling may only have
application in proceedings with repeat offenders.
the sentencing hearing the Crown played an underground video called "Rapsheet
DVD," which showed disguised local hip-hop performers flashing weapons, "gang
signs" and allegedly naming gang members who are dead or in jail. A "shout out"
to "Bugs" was supposed to be a reference to Grant, said Boswell, as part of his
submission that the alleged gang membership should be an aggravating factor in
was surreal," said Martin, about the prosecution's attempt to use a hip-hop
video to prove membership in a gang.
noted that the Crown "expressly avoids any reliance" on the new criminal
organization section of the Criminal Code and to prove the existence of any
aggravating factor, it must do so beyond a reasonable doubt.
Superior Court judge was critical of the gang evidence, which he described as
hearsay and in some cases double hearsay. It included the video, testimony by
an officer based on information from "unnamed members of the community," and
the fact Grant wore blue clothing, which is supposed to be the colour
associated with the Crips. (Coincidentally, the officer testifying as an expert
on street gangs was wearing a dark blue suit and a blue Toronto police association tie as part of a
job action in its contract dispute with the city).
cannot take various individual pieces of unreliable hearsay evidence and, by
adding them together, have each unreliable piece serve to buttress other
unreliable pieces and thereby purport to have a sum total that amounts to reliable
hearsay evidence," said Nordheimer.