Michael Bannon gets lifetime internet ban and prison term for underage prostitution ring
Admitted pimp sentenced to 14 years minus time served after pleading guilty to 22 charges
A Vancouver man who admitted to running an underage prostitution ring will spend more than a decade behind bars and be banned for life from accessing the internet.
Michael Bannon, 35, was sentenced Wednesday morning to 14 years in prison. With credit for time served, his sentence is reduced to 10.1 years.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowden recognized the victims in the courtroom as he handed down his sentence for what he described as Bannon's "egregious" crimes.
"I would like to acknowledge the courage of these young women and one young man in being prepared to testify," Bowden said.
"It would have been a very difficult experience for them."
The surviving victims of Bannon's operation were spared that anguish when he pleaded guilty to 22 charges, Bowden pointed out. Those charges included sexual interference and benefiting from the sexual services of a minor.
The case against Bannon was based on evidence from eight young women and one young man. One of the women died of a drug overdose after Bannon's arrest in July 2015.
Crown and defence lawyers had agreed in a joint submission that a 14-year prison term would be the most suitable sentence for Bannon.
Prosecutor Geordie Proulx described the sentence as a strong deterrent, pointing out that 14 years is longer than most sentences for manslaughter.
"Men of like mind, who think they can prey on vulnerable young women, will know what happens to them when they're caught and prosecuted," Proulx told reporters outside the court.
Bannon will be prohibited from going online for the rest of his life. The admitted pimp had used the internet to lure his victims, contacting them through Facebook to make promises of large financial rewards. He also placed ads for the young people online.
Diane Sowden, executive director of the anti-sexual exploitation group Children of the Street Society, was thrilled by the internet ban.
"I think it's fantastic, because that's the tool that he used," she said outside the court.
"He also has a ban against firearms, but the weapon that he used was the internet, so of course take the weapon away."
Bannon's sentence also included an order to submit a DNA sample, a prohibition on contacting any of the victims, and a condition that he have no contact with minors upon his release from prison.
In a sentencing hearing last week, the court heard that Bannon ran his highly lucrative operation out of Vancouver hotel rooms and apartments for a few months in 2014 and 2015. The youngest of the victims included in the case against him was a transgender girl who was 14 at the time she was exploited.
Bannon has an extensive criminal history, including 31 previous convictions dating back to 1998, when he was 15. His most recent prison term was 56 months for the sexual assault of a 17-year-old and income tax fraud.
He began putting together his prostitution ring just days after being released from prison on those convictions, the court heard.