The provincial court judge tasked with sentencing a Chilliwack man who sexually and mentally abused a young girl over five years is questioning the joint submission from Crown and defence.
In what seemed to some in attendance like a rushed sentencing hearing late on a Friday, Crown counsel Grant Lindsey and defence lawyer Darrel Schultz told Judge Andrea Ormiston that one year in jail was a suitable sentence for Andrew Mullaly.
Mullaly was charged with sexual assault, extortion and possession of child pornography for ongoing abuse of a girl from the time she was 11 until 16. The multi-year abuse and humiliation began with his form of “punishment” where she was forced to strip naked for him. That expanded to him filming her in the shower at least once, and led to repeated instances of sexual touching and sexual assault.
During the brief hearing on April 12, Lindsey read parts of a victim impact statement from the girl, in which she said she felt “used, manipulated, hopeless, ashamed.”
Given the late hour that day, and the seriousness of the case, Ormiston told the lawyers she would not accede to the joint submission without giving the matter further thought. The case was back in court on April 23 where Ormiston still did not agree to the joint submission, but rather ordered the two lawyers to come back with case law backing up the legitimacy of a one-year jail term for this particular crime.
In Canadian law, judges are not bound by joint submissions, however, the courts are generally reluctant to divert from what is proposed by both Crown or defence assuming there is case law showing similar sentences for similar crimes.
According to the Ministry of Justice’s Crown counsel policy manual, Crown should agree to present a joint submission “only where satisfied that a joint submission is appropriate in the public interest and, in particular, will not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
Crown also should present the legal basis in court so that the decision is “readily understood by the court and members of the public.”
There are cases where judges have decided the joint submission is inappropriate. In November of last year, Crown and defence issued a joint submission of five years in jail for Surrey drug dealer Jagdeep Singh Cheema who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and firearms offences.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Murray said the drug-related violence in Surrey was “out of control,” that Cheema was willing and ready to participate in gun warfare, and she was unsatisfied with the sentence. Justice Murray gave Cheema eight years instead.
Mullaly’s next scheduled court date is May 13. Judge Ormiston will either hear from Crown and defence on a date prior to that to pass sentence on May 13, or on May 13 she will hear from the lawyers and sentencing will likely be put over to another date.