Manitoba·CBC Investigates

Winnipeg man who installed hidden cameras in ex-wife's home sentenced to 2 years in jail

A Winnipeg man who broke into his ex-wife’s home and installed hidden cameras in the walls was sentenced on Friday to two years in jail.

'I still believe he has those images. I don't know,' woman says

'We're scared, traumatized and our ability to trust other people is long gone,' read the woman's victim impact statement. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

A Winnipeg man who broke into his ex-wife's home and installed hidden cameras in the walls was sentenced on Friday morning to two years in jail.

But his ex-wife remains fearful of the man — and worried that he still has intimate images from the cameras.

Because of a court-ordered publication ban, CBC News is not naming the people involved in the case.

It was set to go to trial before the man pleaded guilty Thursday to breaking and entering and breach of a recognizance. Charges related to distribution of intimate images were dropped.

"I'm just very relieved," the man's ex-wife said. "It's been really, really tough."

In handing down her sentence, Judge Wanda Garreck also ordered three years probation for the man and ordered him to stay 200 metres away from his ex-wife and any place where she lives, works or worships.

The judge also prohibited him from owning any weapons or explosives.

'I have this constant fear of you'

In April, the man broke into what was the family home and installed video cameras in his ex-wife's bedroom and the living room.

The woman had previously made numerous complaints to Winnipeg police about what she described as threatening and harassing behavior following their break up.

On Thursday, the woman read victim impact statements, including those written by the former couple's children, who are currently 11 and seven years old.

"I have this constant fear of you," the woman said. "You will still try to hurt us and in the most despicable ways possible."

The man's children submitted victim impact statements as part of the sentencing hearing. (CBC )

"We're scared, traumatized and our ability to trust other people is long gone. We question everything, we take extra precautions, we are prisoners in our home," she said.

"Daddy, when Mama told me about the camera I felt sad and mad," wrote the seven-year-old.

"I was [scared] to go to the bathroom."

Intimate images charges dropped

The charges around distributing intimate images — made under the relatively new Section 162.1 of the Criminal Code — were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Introduced four years ago in an attempt to better protect victims of sexual cybercrime, the new law makes it a criminal offence to electronically capture, share and distribute intimate images of another person without that person's consent.

In 2017, the second year the law was on the books, 279 charges were laid across Canada, up from 54 charges the year previous. Of the 279 charges, 45 per cent resulted in convictions.

One of the woman's key concerns was that the cameras were used to capture intimate images of her, which she believes were shared with her ex-husband's family and friends.

"I can't even imagine those images coming up again in 10 years. That's my nightmare to live for the rest of my life," she said.

While thankful to police, she doesn't think investigators acted quickly enough to gather possible electronic evidence.

"I think the police should have acted more proactively," she said. "Because I still believe he has those images. I don't know. I still believe that."

Questions about investigation

Investigators did not issue production orders for the technology company whose devices were used in the alleged crime.  Winnipeg police would not answer questions about what they called "investigative techniques."

"Were they able to contact the camera provider? The cloud storage? I don't know. All I was told that they did not have enough evidence to proceed with the warrant," the woman said.

Crown attorney Brian Sharpe was pleased with the sentence, but acknowledged he might do things differently if faced with a similar technology-heavy case.

"We did have all these devices," Sharpe said. "In future, if I have got a case that has a lot of technology, I might sit down with investigators at an earlier point."

The man, who is not a Canadian citizen, faces a deportation order to Pakistan following the sentence. Convicted criminals sentenced to six months or more lose their right to appeal removal from the country.  

His lawyer, Saheel Zaman, sought a sentence of six months less a day, noting that his client had undergone counselling courses while incarcerated, including twice taking a "healthy relationship" session.

He has been in custody since his arrest but because of time already served while awaiting trial, he will spend nine more months in a provincial jail.

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