Nova Scotia

3 judges to decide if Halifax mall plotter's life sentence too harsh

Lindsay Souvannarath is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. She is one of the people behind a foiled plan to attack the Halifax Shopping Centre four years ago on Valentine's Day.

Lindsay Souvannarath pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder

Lindsay Souvannarath, shown during an earlier court appearance, was not at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Tuesday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Three judges on Nova Scotia's top court are now deliberating whether the sentence handed down to one of the people behind the foiled Valentine's Day plot to open fire at the Halifax Shopping Centre is too harsh.

Lindsay Souvannarath, of Geneva, Ill., is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder related to the 2015 plan. She must serve a minimum of 10 years in prison before she can apply for parole.

On Tuesday, her lawyer, Peter Planetta, laid out his three grounds of appeal before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Souvannarath was not in court.

Planetta said the life sentence handed down by the sentencing judge, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski, reflected a range more appropriate for terrorism offenses — not a conspiracy to commit murder.

The lawyer also argued his client's sentence should be more in line with Souvannarath's co-accused, Randall Shephard, who was sentenced to 10 years for his role in the plot.

Remorse

Planetta also argued Rosinski failed to properly consider the issue of remorse. He said his client did not express any feelings, remorse or otherwise, during court hearings, so it was impossible for the judge to know how she felt.

"My argument today was that there was not much evidence before the court at the time of the sentencing with respect to remorse at all — whether there was or there wasn't," Planetta told reporters after the two-hour hearing.

Shephard did express remorse for his part in the mall plot. A third person involved, James Gamble, 19, killed himself at his Timberlea, N.S., home as police surrounded the house on the day of the 2015 arrests.

Crown prosecutor Tim O'Leary told the court Tuesday that Souvannarath's sentence was not excessively harsh, but rather at the high end of what's recommended.

The three judges on the appeal panel, Jamie Saunders, Cindy Bourgeois and Anne Derrick, reserved their decision.

About the Author

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.