Manitoba

Convicted sex offender, murderer worked as guidance counsellor at a Winnipeg private school: court documents

A convicted sex offender and murderer was working as a guidance counsellor at a private school in Winnipeg when he groped his 13-year-old niece in 2017, according to court documents.

Appeal denied to have 300 days pre-sentence custody count toward prison time

A man who was convicted of sexually interfering his niece tried appealing a judge's decision to decline counting 300 days of pre-sentence custody towards his sentence. (Shutterstock)

A convicted sex offender and murderer was working as a guidance counsellor at a private school in Winnipeg when he groped his then-13-year-old niece, according to a court decision released Thursday.

The man, whose name is under publication ban, recently tried appealing a judge's decision to decline giving him credit for 300 days of pre-sentencing custody after being convicted of sexually interfering with his niece.

Accepted pre-sentencing custody would have reduced the amount of overall jail time the man would serve.

On Apr. 7, 2017, the man and his niece were driving back from a school field trip when the man touched his niece's left thigh and placed his hand under her shirt and bra, groping her right breast. 

The niece, whose name cannot be published because she is a minor, later told her sister about what had happened, court documents say.

The man, who was 68 years old and married when the incident occurred, admitted to giving his niece a ride but denied the allegations.

The man has a long criminal record that dates back to the 1960s. The court's decision says he was living on parole since 2006 "without incident and living a pro-social lifestyle until the incident with his niece."

Prior to charges being laid, the man's parole was suspended and he was taken back into custody. After charges were laid, his parole was revoked.

The man believes he is entitled to 300 days of pre-sentencing custody because "he was being held in custody without a parole hearing because of the allegation by his niece for which he was granted judicial interim release," according to court documents.

The man suffers from "some intergenerational effects of residential schools, limited formal education, loss of Indigenous identity, substance abuse and lack of employment for lengthy periods," the decision says.

Some of his past convictions highlighted in the case include a three-year sentence for manslaughter in 1977, first-degree murder in 1982, and a seven-year sentence in 1985 after being convicted for "a number of serious sexual offences."

Sentence should not be amended, judges

The appeal court judges were not persuaded that the man's sentence should be amended.

"It was not a material error … for the judge to grant no credit for PSC (pre-sentencing custody) because of the mere fact that the accused was in custody and serving a sentence on an entirely unrelated and serious offence," the appeal court judges wrote.

"The accused committed a sexual offence against a child while in a position of trust," the judges wrote.

"In light of this highly morally blameworthy conduct, it was reasonably open to the [sentencing] judge to emphasize protection of the public notwithstanding the sentencing objective of assisting rehabilitation and the principle of restraint."

The appeal court judges also noted that the sentencing judge had taken the effect of parole suspension into account.

In addition to appealing the pre-sentencing custody, the man argued "that the judge misapprehended his evidence and that of the complainant and that the judge unevenly scrutinised the evidence," the court documents said.

The appeal judges were not persuaded that the sentencing judge "made a readily obvious error" in analyzing the evidence and that such an error factored into the man's conviction.

Nor were they persuaded in the argument that the judge weighed the evidence of the man unevenly against that of the niece.

"A misapprehension of evidence is an entirely different situation than where a party says a trial judge should have interpreted the evidence differently," they wrote.

"There is nothing clear from the record or the judge's reasons" that the judge was "incongruent" while analyzing the evidence presented, the judges added.

About the Author

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter based in Winnipeg. Hailing from Newfoundland, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school before moving to Winnipeg. Prior to joining CBC Manitoba, Frew interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. Story idea? Email at nick.frew@cbc.ca

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