Ontario Criminal


Open to trial judge to conclude purpose of sentencing could only be served by life sentence

Accused appealed his sentence of life imprisonment imposed upon his conviction for criminal negligence causing death. Accused was 43-year-old man with extensive criminal record spanning 24 years. Accused commenced crime spree by stealing vehicle while subject to lifetime driving prohibition. Accused became involved in high speed police pursuit late at night during which he drove down wrong side of road and collided with another vehicle. Driver of that vehicle died and five other occupants were injured resulting in, amongst other charges, criminal negligence causing death and five counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Appeal dismissed. Clearly sentence went beyond range of sentences established by appellate courts for this kind of offence. Trial judge was aware of range and only departed from it after giving careful consideration to extraordinary nature of this case, both as it related to serious and tragic circumstances and consequences of offence and appalling facts as they relate to accused’s criminal and dangerous conduct throughout his adult life. Parity principle was only one of several principles which must be taken into account in fixing appropriate sentence which best served fundamental purpose of sentencing. It was open to trial judge to conclude that in egregious circumstances of this case that fundamental purpose could be served only by imposition of life sentence. It must be left to Parole Board to determine if, when, and on what terms accused should be allowed to return to community.

R. v. Smith (Sep. 26, 2014, Ont. C.A., Doherty J.A., Pepall J.A., and Tulloch J.A., File No. CA C56234) Decision at 102 W.C.B. (2d) 516 was affirmed.  116 W.C.B. (2d) 223.

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