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SENTENCING - Homicide - Young persons - Adult sentences - Test

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 @ 8:03 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, RDF, from an order sentencing him as an adult. In January 2016, the accused shot and killed his two cousins. He subsequently attended a school where he went on a shooting rampage, killing two employees and seriously injuring seven others. There was evidence of significant planning. The accused was an indigenous young person 15 days from his 18th birthday at the time of the shootings. He had no prior criminal history. In October 2016, the accused pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder, two counts of second degree murder, and seven counts of attempted murder. The Crown applied for an order sentencing the accused as an adult. The Crown adduced psychiatric reports that identified possible antisocial disorder and mild substance abuse issues but fell short of diagnosing severe mental health issues. The accused was assessed as a medium risk to reoffend violently, with risk reduction possible through treatment. The defence medical evidence diagnosed multiple conduct and psychiatric disorders. The medical evidence from both sides diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder that did not predate the shootings. The sentencing judge found the Crown rebutted the presumption of diminished moral blameworthiness, and that a youth sentence would not be of sufficient length to hold the accused accountable. Imposition of an adult sentence was thus ordered. The accused appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The sentencing judge did not err in concluding the accused should be sentenced as an adult. In so finding, the judge did not err in determining the Crown rebutted the presumption of diminished moral culpability. The sentencing judge took into consideration the conflicting evidence regarding the accused's cognitive and mental health issues and maturity, the evidence of the steps he took to prepare for and execute his plan and, in conjunction with an examination of the other evidence, determined his actions demonstrated the level of maturity, moral sophistication and capacity for independent judgment of an adult. The evidence supported the sentencing judge's conclusions. In assessing moral blameworthiness, the judge did not attribute undue weight to the seriousness of the offence in a manner that warranted appellate intervention. The sentencing judge did not err in refusing to order an MRI, properly finding that specific diagnostic tests were outside of the scope of authority of s. 34 of the YCJA. The sentencing judge did not err in refusing to make an Intensive Rehabilitation Custody and Supervision (IRCS) order. No such program was available for the accused at the time of sentencing, and the prevailing factors militated against an IRCS order. In any event, an IRCS order could only be made if the accused was sentenced as a youth. Having found a youth sentence was insufficient to hold the accused accountable, an IRCS order could not have been imposed.

R. v. R.D.F., [2019] S.J. No. 428, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, R.G. Richards C.J.S., G.R. Jackson and J.A. Tholl JJ.A., October 31, 2019. Digest No. TLD-December92019005