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SENTENCING - Homicide - First degree murder - Sentencing considerations - Aggravating factors - Rehabilitation - Remorse - Stale offences - Seriousness of offence - Age of accused

Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 8:44 AM  

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Appeal by Ellacott from the sentence of life imprisonment with seven years of parole ineligibility imposed following his 2012 first-degree murder conviction. Ellacott was 15 years old in 1983 when he committed the murder of an elderly neighbour for whom he had been doing household chores. The victim was brutally stabbed and had her jugular vein cut after having been raped and sodomised. It was almost 30 years later that a fingerprint left at the crime scene was linked to Ellacott. He was placed under surveillance and a DNA sample was obtained surreptitiously. The sample matched DNA in the exudate on the victim’s pubic hairs and semen found on one of her slippers. By the time he was charged, Ellacott was a middle-aged man. He had no other convictions on his record. The Crown successfully applied to have Ellacott sentenced as an adult. The judge remarked that Ellacott’s attempt to deny his involvement in the murder by claiming that he placed the fingerprint at the scene helping the victim with a box days earlier, and simply denying that the DNA left at the scene was his, was a factor that persuaded the judge that only a life time monitor of Ellacott was sufficient to protect the public.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Ellacott was properly sentenced as an adult. The sentencing judge gave due consideration to all the relevant sentencing factors, including the seriousness of the offence, the planning and deliberation involved and the level of moral judgment demonstrated by Ellacott. The circumstances of the case were sufficient to rebut the presumption of diminished moral blameworthiness of a young person. Ellacott’s conduct was not merely a lapse in judgment, but a purposeful act of extreme violence against an elderly, vulnerable neighbour with no reason to fear him. The judge should not have held it against Ellacott that he tried to defend the charge against him. However, this error was of no moment, because the sentence itself was proportionate to the seriousness of Ellacott’s crime. The judge was entitled to conclude that the proportionate sentence in this case emphasized accountability rather than rehabilitation and reintegration.

R. v. Ellacott, [2017] O.J. No. 4563, Ontario Court of Appeal, K.M. Weiler, K.N. Feldman and G. Huscroft JJ.A., September 5, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Sept182017010