Judge tells teens to fear rape in prison
Aug. 9, 2004 07:25 PM
WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg judge warned two violent young offenders Monday that they face bleak futures - which could include being raped in federal prison - if they don't turn their troubled lives around.
"Next stop is Stony Mountain," provincial court Judge Ronald Meyers told a 17-year-old boy, who along with a 15-year-old pleaded guilty to three armed robberies of Winnipeg businesses.
"I don't know whether you're prepared to consider yourself the girlfriend of some guy in there. But that's what awaits you. An 18-year-old fresh face comes in and it's fair game. Think about that."
The unusually frank talk was an apparent attempt by Meyers to scare the teens straight in the absence of other punitive weapons in his judicial arsenal. Just seconds after his lecture was over, Meyers agreed to a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers that saw both teenagers receive short jail sentences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Meyers is among several judges who have complained that they are handcuffed from giving stiff penalties under the new act because federal legislators removed deterrence as a sentencing factor.
Manitoba's highest court cemented those views last month by upholding a one-day jail sentence - coincidentally given out by Meyers - to a teenager who beat an Iraqi immigrant to death with an eight ball hidden in a sock. The high court found Meyers was correct to weigh the needs of the killer in his sentence.
In Monday's case, the 17-year-old was sentenced to eight months in jail and four months under community supervision in addition to two months already served. The 15-year-old received six months in jail and three months community supervision in addition to six months already served.
Both pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery with a firearm. If they had been sentenced as adults, each would have faced a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison under federal legislation.
"You are very lucky the Crown didn't want to proceed by way of an adult sentence," said Meyers.
The older boy has 12 prior convictions, including weapons and assault charges. The younger boy has 10 prior convictions for similar violent offences.
The pair stole nearly $3,000 in cash and cigarettes while robbing three city businesses with a sawed-off shotgun earlier this year. The younger teen wielded the gun while the older boy waited in their stolen getaway car. There were no shots fired or physical injures, although the victims were emotionally traumatized, court was told.
Saheel Zaman, the lawyer representing the 15-year-old, said his client has a troubled background that includes being bounced around in various group homes by Child and Family Services. The boy's mother died at a young age and his father was never in the picture.
Jason Miller, the lawyer representing the 17-year-old, said his client has a more stable family but has battled a host of addictions and fell in with the wrong crowd.
"I'm concerned that if he doesn't get his life together, the next time I'll be in court arguing how long he should be spending at Stony Mountain," said Miller.