A young Winnipeg mother who played an active role in a violent home invasion has been spared a lengthy penitentiary sentence, but the ruling should not be viewed as precedent-setting, a judge stressed Wednesday.
Jozie Amyot, 23, was convicted after trial last year of one count of breaking and entering, and committing robbery in connection with the February 2014 incident.
Co-accused Nicholas Raymond Emslie was convicted of the same charge and an additional count of using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence. He was sentenced last fall to eight years in prison.
The accepted sentencing range for home invasions is seven to 10 years.
Justice Vic Toews agreed to a defence recommendation that Amyot be sentenced to two years less a day in jail, followed by three years supervised probation. Jail sentences of two years or more are normally served in a federal penitentiary.
Toews said the "exceptional circumstances" of the case, including Amyot's clear efforts to rehabilitate herself, justified the reduced sentence.
A dozen family members attended the sentencing hearing, including Amyot's two-year-old daughter and five-month-old son. Amyot hung her head and cried when she learned her sentence.
'You are a very fortunate woman, because this is not a sentence I would impose in 99.9% of cases.' - Justice Vic Toews
"You are a very fortunate woman, because this is not a sentence I would impose in 99.9 per cent of cases," Toews told Amyot.
"I want the record to reflect this has no precedential value. This is a very exceptional case."
'Hoodwinked' by co-accused
Court heard evidence at trial Amyot identified the victim of the home invasion as a target after Emslie, her boyfriend at the time and a drug dealer, told her he needed to rob another dealer to pay off a drug debt.
Amyot and the victim had been romantically involved previously and remained friends. During a visit to the victim's St. James apartment, Amyot secretly texted Emslie as he and another man made their way to the home.
When the men were in place outside the apartment, Amyot told the victim she was leaving and opened the door for the masked intruders.
Amyot left as Emslie and the other man assaulted the victim and robbed him of $2,000 and jewelry.
Court heard Amyot had no prior criminal record but had a cocaine problem, and was "manipulated" by her co-accused.
"I certainly struggled with an appropriate sentence in this case," said Crown attorney Michelle Bright, who recommended Amyot be sentenced to five years in prison.
"I agree she was, to an extent, hoodwinked into doing this," Bright said. "Yes, she was manipulated, had strong feelings for [Emslie], was probabably doing drugs with him, but she was an independent person.... She handed her friend to him on a silver platter."
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Amyot has dramatically changed her life since her arrest, worked hard to quit drugs and, with the help of family, has focused all her energies on her children, said defence lawyer Matthew Gould.
"Post-offence conduct can't get much better than Ms. Amyot," Gould said.
Gould said a penitentiary sentence of two years or longer — which would be served out of province — would mean Amyot would not see her children for months at a time.
"The impact on the children is absolutely relevant ... and tragic," Gould said.
Toews said separation from children is a natural consequence of being convicted of a crime and did not factor into his decision.
"What does impact my decision is that ... she has been supportive and taken an active part in the raising of her children," Toews said.
"She seems at this point to have carried out that responsibility at an acceptable level."