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DANGEROUS AND LONG-TERM OFFENDERS - Dangerous offender designation

Monday, February 26, 2018 @ 8:26 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, McDonald, from designation as a dangerous offender. The accused, now age 66, was convicted of two manslaughters. In 1981, the accused shot and killed a man after a bar fight that left him angered and humiliated. The accused was not convicted until 2014, as he immediately left the region to work in the United States until 2002. In 2003, the accused was living in England. He was convicted of manslaughter after he killed his roommate with a sledgehammer due to finding him going through his belongings. The accused violated his parole and entered Canada surreptitiously. In 2010, the RCMP commenced a Mr. Big operation targeting the accused. The accused was involved in 86 fictitious scenarios contrived by police with the objective of cultivating a relationship between the accused and the undercover investigator. The accused eventually admitted the 1981 killing to the investigator. His statements made in the course of the investigation were ruled admissible at trial. At sentencing, some aspects of the Mr. Big evidence were used for the purpose of determining whether there was a reasonable possibility of eventual control of the accused's risk to the community. The sentencing judge concluded that the accused met the dangerous offender criteria and imposed an indeterminate sentence. The accused appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The sentencing judge did not err in dismissing the accused's preliminary objection to the admissibility of the Mr. Big evidence for sentencing purposes. The judge examined the accused's conduct during the operation in detail and found it reliable and relevant to the issue of eventual control in the community. The evidence was corroborated by events independent from the investigation. The sentencing judge did not err in finding the accused was likely to commit a future violent offence, as expert concerns regarding the reliability of their psychiatric risk assessment were sufficiently considered and weighed. No misapprehension of the expert evidence was established. The judge did not err in concluding that age was not reducing the accused's likelihood of re-offending and his capacity for future violence. The sentencing judge did not err in finding no reasonable prospect of control in the community based on aspects of the Mr. Big evidence. The judge appropriately treated that evidence with caution, and considered its confirmatory effect on the accused's character. The analysis was conducted with extreme care and resulted in a reasonable decision.

R. v. McDonald, [2018] B.C.J. No. 179, British Columbia Court of Appeal, P.A. Kirkpatrick, J.E.D. Savage and G. Dickson JJ.A., February 6, 2018. Digest No. TLD-February262018001