Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Manslaughter sentence

R. v. Magno, 2015 ONCA 111 is an interesting case for manslaughter sentencing. The offender received a global sentence of 12 years, less deadtime, in circumstances where a far higher sentence might be expected. In Alberta or Nunavut I would have expected at least 15 years or more. 

John Mango appeals his conviction on charges of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit arson, arson causing bodily harm and arson for fraudulent purposes.  He also seeks leave to appeal his sentence of 12 years' imprisonment.


[77]       At trial, the appellant submitted that an appropriate sentence was six to eight years' imprisonment, less credit for pre-trial custody and restrictive bail conditions. The Crown submitted that the appropriate sentence was ten years over and above any such credit. The trial judge accepted the Crown's submission and imposed a sentence of 12 years, less two years' credit, for an effective sentence of ten years. 

[78]       The appellant submits that for a first offender in his mid-50s with a long history of positive involvement in the community and no need for individual deterrence or incapacitation, this sentence is manifestly excessive. He notes that Paskalis and McMaster received much shorter sentences for the same crime.

[79]       The appellant also submits that the trial judge erred in treating as an aggravating factor the negative impact that the appellant's sentence would have on his family.

[80]       On appeal, the appellant did not make any submission on the appropriate sentence that should be imposed, arguing only that the sentence should be reduced. In oral argument, counsel for the appellant conceded that she was not urging this court to impose a sentence less than the sentence imposed on Roks, which was 10 years' incarceration, less pre-trial custody. She only asked that the court consider the impact of pre-trial delays, the age of the appellant and the shorter sentence imposed on Paskalis.

[81]       I would not give effect to the sentence appeal. The sentencing judge gave thorough reasons for the sentence he imposed. He carefully reviewed the circumstances of the appellant and the relevant legal principles, including denunciation, deterrence and parity. 

[82]       The appellant had a high degree of moral blameworthiness. He was involved in a conspiracy that was planned over time and motivated by greed. He must have known that the fire would put the lives of first responders and nearby residents at risk. Further, the conspiracy would not have been possible without the appellant's involvement, as it was his insurance proceeds that were the object of the arson scheme. Given that the co-accused, Roks, received a 10-year sentence from this court, it would be difficult to say that a 12-year sentence for the appellant is inappropriate.  

[83]       The sentencing judge accepted the appellant's submission that his incarceration will be emotionally devastating for his family.  However, the sentencing judge concluded, as he was entitled to do, that this was not a mitigating factor and that the impact on the family underscores that they are victims of the appellant.  I see no error in this analysis.

[84]       In these circumstances, the trial judge correctly concluded that the sentencing objectives of deterrence and denunciation must predominate. The reasons for sentence disclose no error in principle and the length of sentence imposed is within the range for a serious crime of this nature. 

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