Keeping Up Is Hard to Do:
A Trial Judge’s Reading Blog


R. v. A.M.D., 2024 PECA 6, FEBRUARY 27, 2024.

FACTS:  The accused pleaded guilty to the offence of sexual inference involving a fourteen year-old boy.  The circumstances involved were described in the following manner (at paragraph 22):

[The respondent], at the time of the offence, was 39 years of age.  She was in yet another abusive relationship.  She has three children, one of whom was living with a grandmother.  The other two children were living with her at the time.  Her abuser, [W.B.], had four children, the oldest of which was 14-year-old [H.B.].  [H.B.] and his siblings came to live with [the respondent] and her children.  She was in effect acting as a mother to these children.  The one thing that she had in common with the [children of W.B.] was they were all victims of abuse from [W.B.].  [The respondent] who has had significant mental health issues, including borderline personality disorder and substance issues, her drug of choice being cocaine appears to have begun to see the 14-year-old boy as an adult and perhaps soul mate.  Thereafter, their mother-child relationship morphed into a sexual relationship and there was seven times incidents of sex, some of which included oral sex over a period of 25 days before her friend reported it to CPS, and in turn contacted the police, and the sex occurred in various places including a public park being [F], in a car, in a parking lot, and the house in which they lived.

The sentencing judge imposed a period of three years of incarceration.  The Crown was granted leave to appeal from sentence.

HELD:  The appeal was allowed and the sentence increased to a period of five years of incarceration.  The Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal held that the sentencing judge placed too much emphasis on “the respondent’s personal circumstances.  Instead, the sentence should have been determined by paying particular attention to the harm caused by the respondent to H.B.” (at paragraph 68).  The Court of Appeal concluded as follows (at paragraph 69):

Additionally, while the sentencing judge was entitled to give significant weight to other sentencing principles and objectives, including restraint and rehabilitation, these factors could not be given greater, or even equal, weight than denunciation and deterrence.  The sentencing judge’s concern that the sentence recommended by the Crown might crush the respondent was a significant and important consideration in determining an appropriate sentence.  It could not, however, be paramount to the principle of proportionality nor the objectives of denunciation and deterrence when arriving at a fit and appropriate sentence.