Donnie Snook appeal of 18-year sentence on sex charges postponed

Former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook's appeal of his 18-year sentence on child sex abuse charges has been postponed.

Former Saint John city councillor and youth ministry leader convicted of 46 sex crimes against boys

Former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook's appeal of his 18-year sentence on child sex abuse charges ​has been postponed.

Donnie Snook, pictured here at an earlier court appearance in Newfoundland, contends his 18-year sentence is "unreasonable." (CBC)
The matter was scheduled to begin in Fredericton on Monday, but has instead been sent to the so-called remanet list — a list of cases that are still pending, but have not been set down for a specific date.

Chief Justice J. Ernest Drapeau deferred the matter because Snook's lawyer, James Matheson, is ill, according to a Department of Justice spokesperson.

The case is now expected to be heard some time this fall.

The court is expected to deal with the Crown's request for leave to cross-appeal at the same time, as well as the cross-appeal itself, if granted, the spokesperson said.

Snook, 42, filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal in November, calling his sentence "unreasonable and in excess of the appropriate range in all the circumstances."

The former youth pastor, who ran a hot lunch program for underprivileged children, was sentenced in October after pleading guilty to 46 sex crimes against children, including sexual assault, making child pornography and extortion.

The crimes spanned 12 years and involved 17 male victims, some as young as five years old.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock had said at the time 18 years is "one of the longest sentences ever awarded in Canada" for such a case.

Snook was subsequently sentenced to an additional three months for three other child exploitation charges stemming from his native Newfoundland and Labrador.

He pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a boy under the age of 14 while he was a pastor with the now-defunct Salvation Army church in Mount Moriah in the mid-1990s.

The Crown has filed leave to cross-appeal Snook's appeal, arguing the sentencing judge "erred in law."

Provincial court Judge Alfred Brien gave Snook 1½ times credit for the approximately nine months he had already spent in custody, knocking about 13½ months off of his sentence.

Brien also ruled Snook would be eligible for parole after serving the standard one-third of his sentence — less than six years.

Lamrock contends the amount of credit for time served in pre-trial custody is capped at a ratio of 1-1 as a general rule and the maximum 1½ times credit should only be used when justified and the judge must explain those circumstances.

She also contends the judge should have made an order delaying Snook's parole eligibility.

She had recommended the judge consider a sentence of 21 years in prison, with no eligibility for parole until Snook had served at least half his sentence, or 10 years, whichever was less.