Mandatory minimum 1-year sentence in sexual interference case rejected

A 41-year-old Cape Breton man has been sentenced to five months in jail for sexually interfering with a toddler — less than half of the mandatory minimum sentence.

Cape Breton man, 41, who sexually interfered with a toddler, given 5 months

A 41-year-old Cape Breton man has been sentenced to five months in jail for sexually interfering with a toddler after a judge ruled the mandatory minimum sentence of a year was "cruel and unusual punishment."

The man, who's only identified in court documents by the initials S.J.P., faced a mandatory minimum sentence of a year following his conviction on a charge of sexual interference of a young girl. But Judge Peter Ross of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court ruled the one-year minimum violated the man's constitutional rights and amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment."

Details of the incident are vague to protect the young victim.

In his decision, Ross refers to the accused as looking after young children. According to the evidence, S.J.P. consumed between seven and 10 beer on the day of the offence.

He was apparently passed out when his sister-in-law discovered him.

"It appears that the accused, having been roused from his sleep, found himself aroused in a different sense, and found in [a] young child a means by which to indulge this desire," Ross wrote in his decision.

In her testimony, the sister-in-law said S.J.P. was rubbing up against the child through clothing.

"On the facts before me, the accused's purpose was momentary sexual gratification," the judge wrote.

"His thinking was clouded by alcohol, or lack of sleep, or both."

The judge said the only silver lining in this case is that the victim, who's now barely two years old, has not suffered any "actual harm — physical, emotional or psychological."