Fifteen months for kidnapping | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 21 Jun 2024 5pm

Fifteen months for kidnapping

The young man who kidnapped a local boy on his way home from school last November has been sentenced to 15 months in closed custody followed by three years probation.

The 19-year-old man, who The Mail has chosen not to identify, appeared in provincial court on Friday, June 27 for sentencing. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, assault with a weapon and a number of breaches of his release. He was to be sentenced in youth court for sexual crimes two days before the kidnapping event in November 2007.

The court heard how on November 14, the young man was left alone in his stepfather’s car in the Bashaw area. About three hours later in he appeared in Drumheller in the car. The man approached three boys between the ages of six and nine who were on their way to an after school program. Armed with a utility knife, the man ordered one young boy into the car. The boy refused. The man then grabbed another boy by the backpack and put him in the car. The third child grabbed the man in an attempt to stop him, and was struck. The boy in the car climbed in the backseat, while the other two ran to separate homes for help.

The knife was recovered from the scene of the kidnapping, and was found to be fully retracted into the handle.

The man drove on secondary roads south of Drumheller. He told the young boy he would not see his parents for about a day. When he noted he was running out of gas he parked in a treed area near Bassano.

The man had a cell phone and while they were fleeing the man kept in contact with his mother and the police. The man eventually gave the police directions to where he was and shortly before 7 p.m., police took the man into custody.

The court heard the man's reason to abduct the boy was to protect himself, that way the police would be easier on him. While he was awaiting sentencing on other matters, he had no convictions at the time of the incident.

Crown Prosecutor Ron Pedersen, in recommending a three to five year sentence, said this type of crime, “strikes a chill in the heart of every parent,” and also said denunciation and deterrence are the primary sentencing principals that should be applied.

Defense for the man, Harry Van Harten, asked for a sentence of time served, if this client was given credit for pretrial custody.

Leading up to the guilty plea, the young man was serving a sentence for his youth matters. Defence agreed last January on a more substantial youth sentence, to allow the young man to receive treatment. Since Van Harten's client was also being held for the kidnapping charges, he could not receive such treatment. Because if this, defense argued credit should be given for the full seven months his client was behind bars, followed by a maximum probation order where appropriate.

He went on to tell the court his client, who is now 19, “suffers from significant brain dysfunction.”

Van Harten said the man functions at the level of a 10-12 year old, and while he knows the difference between right and wrong, he cannot put together the simple cause and affect of his actions. Pre-sentence reports said the young man needs constant line of sight supervision.

Judge Gordon Clozza told the court this was one of the most difficult cases he has had to pass sentence on. The circumstances were definitely unique, and there is not very much case law to work from. He disagreed with Pedersen and said he felt the primary sentencing principles were rehabilitation for the individual and the protection of society.

“What are we trying to accomplish? We know we can’t keep him in custody forever, so forget it, he is going to be in custody for a short time,” Clozza said, adding, “What are we going to do when he gets out?”

He cited case law on kidnapping cases, all of which were more serious crimes, where often physical harm was done. In this case the children involved were not physically hurt, but were possibly psychologically harmed.

In weighing the pros and cons of a penitentiary sentence (more than two years, to be served in a federal institution), Clozza noted that by law it cannot be followed up with probation. A provincial sentence however can be followed by up to three years probation. The man was sentenced to 15 months in custody. Judge Clozza did not give him credit for the time he was serving his youth sentence, but said there was a global consideration in sentencing. He was given 2 for 1 credit for the two months in custody he served before he was sentenced on youth matters, leaving 11 months to be served.

This sentence is to be served in an adult facility and in isolation for his protection and then followed up by the three years probation. Conditions include that he must be made available for treatment and have a risk assessment completed every six months.

The father of one of the youths who was involved with the kidnapping says his greatest fear is that this young man hurts another child.

“The scariest thing for us, the family, is this guy is going to get out again," said the father, “and he is going to be a very high risk to reoffend, and I pray to God he doesn’t hurt any one else or any other families. I hope this guy gets the supervision he needs, or he is going to hurt someone else.”

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