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SENTENCING - Manslaughter - Particular sanctions - Imprisonment

Monday, July 19, 2021 @ 9:25 AM  

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Appeal by Beaver and Lambert from the four-year sentence imposed following their convictions for manslaughter. The appellants had a dispute with the victim, their roommate, about rent. Both appellants participated in punching, kicking, choking, and slamming the victim’s face into the ground. After knowing the victim had stopped breathing, the appellants left him unaided at the foot of the stairs to his home in a failed effort to feign accident. In a voir dire, the trial judge found the appellants were arbitrarily detained and unlawfully taken into police custody in breach of their Charter rights but refused to exclude the appellants’ statements to police on the basis that the breach had little effect on the appellants.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The sentencing judge did not err in principle or otherwise commit any errors that had a material impact on the sentences. The sentences imposed were not demonstrably unfit. There was no basis for appellate intervention. The sentencing judge correctly determined the appellants’ unlawful acts fell into the second most serious category of manslaughter offences under R. v. Laberge, being those which were likely to put the victim at risk of, or cause, serious bodily injury. Describing the situation as a group attack accurately described that the victim was outnumbered by the two appellants. The sentencing judge did not err in finding a range of four to six years was appropriate. He did not err by treating the appellants’ pretrial house arrest as a mitigating factor rather than assigning a specific mathematical deduction to pretrial custody. He did not err by not granting a reduction in sentence for the Charter breach. Dissenting reasons were provided. Sentence: Four years’ imprisonment.

R. v. Beaver, [2021] A.J. No. 832, Alberta Court of Appeal, B.L. Veldhuis, F.L. Schutz and M.G. Crighton JJ.A., June 17, 2021. Digest No. TLD-July192021001