Criminal Law – Murder – Attempted Murder – Sentencing
The accused was convicted of attempted murder contrary to s. 239(a) of the Criminal Code, having a firearm in her possession while being prohibited from doing so under s. 109(1), contrary to s. 117.01(3) of the Code, wilfully obstructing a police officer engaged in executing his duty investigating a firearms offence by providing a false name, contrary to s. 129(a) of the Code, and knowingly uttering a threat to the victim of the attempted murder, her husband, contrary to s. 284.1(1)(a) of the Code. A Pre-Sentence Report was ordered, and a privately-funded Gladue Report was prepared to assist the court in determining an appropriate sentence. On the day the offences were committed, the accused approached her husband carrying a .22 calibre rifle and said, “I am going to kill you,” pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. When RCMP officers came to the remote lake where the incident occurred, the accused gave them a false name. At the time, the accused was still subject to a 10-year order prohibiting her from possession of a firearm. She was also on judicial interim release after being charged with assault in an unrelated offence. According to the Gladue Report, the accused had witnessed domestic violence and alcohol abuse in her home. After being apprehended and placed in foster care, she was physically, emotionally and sexually abused. She and her parents had all attended residential school. All her brothers had died from substance abuse, and one of her children died in a vehicle accident at 22. The accused and her husband were actively engaged in helping to raise the daughter’s children. However, she described her husband as abusive and alleged he had supplied her with alcohol. These statements were questioned because the accused had a history of false allegations against him and other individuals. The accused had not expressed remorse for her actions and did not take responsibility for them. Since the offence, the accused had been living in the community under bail and was attending church, pursuing addictions counselling and taking life skills courses. Letters of support from the community and her husband had been filed with the court, indicating that she was addressing her issues. The Crown recommended a sentence of eight years for attempted murder and one year consecutive for possession of a firearm with six months’ imprisonment for uttering and four months for obstruction to be served concurrent to the first two sentences. The defence submitted that the accused should receive a five-year sentence for attempted murder and one year for the firearms offence, 90 days for obstruction and one year for uttering to run concurrently. Both the Crown and defence noted that there were significant Gladue factors.
HELD: The accused was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for attempted murder to be served consecutively to one year for possession of a firearm while prohibited. The accused received four months’ imprisonment for obstruction and nine months’ imprisonment for uttering, both to be served concurrently to the other sentences. She was given credit for time on remand, which reduced her sentence to seven years. The court regarded the sentence it imposed for attempted murder at the low end of the range. Because the accused was on judicial interim release at the time of the offence, it was appropriate to impose a consecutive sentence pursuant to s. 718.3(4)(b) of the Code. It noted that the Gladue factors and the accused’s personal history were significant but did not find other mitigating factors. The aggravating factors consisted of the accused’s spousal relationship with the victim under s. 718.2(a)(iii) of the Code and that she was on judicial interim release at the time of the offence, as well as the lack of provocation involved in the attempted murder and that the accused had not expressed remorse.