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SENTENCING - Robbery and extortion - Sentencing precedents or starting point - Deportation

Friday, December 21, 2018 @ 6:36 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Belakziz, from a sentence imposed for conspiracy to commit robbery. The accused was a Bank of Montreal employee involved in a romantic relationship with her co-conspirator. The couple and two others formed a plan to rob the bank. The accused provided the group with confidential information regarding the layout of the bank, access codes and silent alarms. On the day of the robbery, the accused decided not to proceed with the plan. The robbery proceeded in any event. The three perpetrators entered the bank masked and armed, secured the doors, threatened violence, and took possession of $12,000. The accused entered a false access code, but ultimately complied following threats. The perpetrators were apprehended shortly after the robbery. They received sentences of between 5.5 and six years. Police eventually connected the accused to the robbery through fingerprints and a handwriting comparison with the robbery plan. The accused pled guilty. A joint submission proposed a sentence of six months less one day plus two years' probation. The sentencing judge rejected the joint submission as demonstrably unfit and imposed a sentence of two years less one day, less six months' credit for pre-trial custody and delay. The accused appealed.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The sentencing judge reverse-engineered the joint submission analysis by inappropriately determining the appropriate sentence and comparing it to the joint submission. The proper analysis involved starting with the basis for the joint submission to determine whether something apart from the length of the sentence engaged the broader public interest or the repute of the administration of justice. It was an error of principle to employ a demonstrable unfitness test. In addition, the sentencing judge under-emphasized the accused's abandonment of the plan and attempt to thwart the robbery, as the accused's role in the conspiracy was anomalous in many respects. The joint submission, while arguably lenient, was not so disconnected from the offence and the offender as to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The sentence imposed was set aside and replaced with that contemplated by the joint submission. Sentence: six months less one day of imprisonment; two years' probation.

R. v. Belakziz, [2018] A.J. No. 1313, Alberta Court of Appeal, M.S. Paperny, F.F. Slatter and B.K. O'Ferrall JJ.A., November 8, 2018. Digest No. TLD-December172018010