“A conditional sentence is a jail sentence in the community.” These were Judge Brian Harvey’s words at the February 1 sentencing hearing of the Gabriola man charged with sexual interference of a person under fourteen. According to Crown prosecutor Nick Barber, the offender–whose name cannot be published due to a publication ban–sexually abused his daughter between 2010 and 2013 on Gabriola, beginning when she was nine years of age. In 2019, she suffered a mental breakdown and disclosed the abuse to friends.
During the hearing, the judge gave the offender a two-year conditional sentence to be followed by three years probation. Barber and defence lawyer Stephen Taylor agreed to have the offender withdraw his earlier guilty plea to sexual assault, which would have meant jail time for the offender as the victim was a minor at the time. According to Barber, the victim would not have cooperated had there been a possibility that her father would be imprisoned, so he and Taylor chose to make a joint submission to the judge in which the offender pleaded guilty to the lesser offence and withdrew his earlier plea.
“She does not want her father to end up in jail,” said Barber. “She doesn’t want to have no contact with him, she feels that she is capable of managing what has happened in her life and is really just concerned he gets help for himself and isn’t a risk to other children.”
As part of his sentence, the offender cannot have any contact with the victim during his conditional sentence and during his probation, must be on the sexual offender registry for 20 years, and have no contact with anyone under the age of 16 during his lifetime (this includes internet communication, including chat rooms). He is under house arrest, although he may come and go to work, for medical and other appointments as approved by the supervisor assigned to him by the court.
The offender must also maintain sobriety and attend counselling and treatment programs focusing on drug and alcohol abuse and programs for sexual offenders. (A psychiatric report described him as having a low to moderate risk of re-offending with sexual violence, but a higher risk if alcohol is involved.) The offender must also provide the Nanaimo RCMP with a sample of his DNA.
At the end of the hearing, the judge stressed that there is no parole available to the offender.
He must serve every day of his conditional sentence and probation, and that should he breach any one of the conditions, he would find himself back in court.