New Brunswick

Donnie Snook sentence on sex charges being appealed by Crown

The Crown is seeking to appeal the sentence handed to former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook for sex crimes against children, saying the judge "erred in law."

Karen Lee Lamrock says judge 'erred in law' giving Snook credit for time served, not delaying parole

The Crown is seeking to appeal the sentence handed to former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook for sex crimes against children, saying the judge "erred in law."

Snook, 41, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in October after pleading guilty to 46 charges, including sexual assault, making child pornography and extortion.

Donnie Snook is also appealing his sentence, calling it unreasonable and excessive.
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.

Snook, who also served as director of the Saint John Inner City Youth Ministry, filed a notice of appeal last month, saying his sentence was "unreasonable and in excess of the appropriate range."

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock has now filed an application for leave to cross appeal Snook's appeal.

In the document, filed with the Court of Appeal in Fredericton, Lamrock contends the judge erred in law in his interpretation of the section of the Criminal Code regarding sentencing credit to be given for time spent in custody.

Although 2-for-1 credit for pre-trial custody used to be common practice to compensate for conditions such as overcrowded detention facilities, the lack of programs or activities for inmates and the fact that the time did not count toward their eventual eligibility for parole or statutory release, that changed in 2009.

The amount of credit for time served is now capped at a ratio of 1-1 as a general rule.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock believes the judge should have delayed Donnie Snook's parole eligibility. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)
Judges may give credit at a maximum ratio of 1.5-to-1 only when circumstances justify it, and they are required to explain those circumstances.

In the application to appeal, Lamrock also says the judge erred in law and principle by failing to make an order delaying Snook's parole eligibility.

Under section 743.6, a judge "may, if satisfied, having regard to the circumstances of the commission of the offence and the character and circumstances of the offender, that the expression of society’s denunciation of the offence or the objective of specific or general deterrence so requires, order that the portion of the sentence that must be served before the offender may be released on full parole is one half of the sentence or 10 years, whichever is less."

Lamrock had recommended the judge consider a sentence of 21 years, with that delayed parole eligibility.

She said she had initially tried to calculate a recommended sentence based on the individual victims, but came up with a total of more than 75 years.

Eighteen years is "one of the longest sentences ever awarded in Canada" for such a case, Lamrock has said.

The defence had recommended a 12-year sentence.

The charges against Snook span 12 years and involve 17 male victims, some as young as five years old.

He is still facing sentencing on four additional charges stemming from his native Newfoundland and Labrador.

Snook pleaded guilty last month to two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference, all involving a a boy under the age of 14 when Snook was a pastor with the now-defunct Salvation Army church in Mount Moriah in the mid-1990s.

A sentencing hearing on those charges is scheduled for Dec. 17.