R. v. Ryan (G.R.), (2015) 607 A.R. 47

JudgePicard, O'Ferrall and Wakeling, JJ.A.
CourtCourt of Appeal (Alberta)
Case DateSeptember 11, 2015
Citations(2015), 607 A.R. 47;2015 ABCA 286

R. v. Ryan (G.R.) (2015), 607 A.R. 47; 653 W.A.C. 47 (CA)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2015] A.R. TBEd. SE.039

Her Majesty the Queen (appellant) v. Gerald Robert Ryan (respondent)

(1103-0178-A; 2015 ABCA 286)

Indexed As: R. v. Ryan (G.R.)

Alberta Court of Appeal

Picard, O'Ferrall and Wakeling, JJ.A.

September 11, 2015.

Summary:

The accused drug dealer admittedly shot and killed the victim. The victim had disappeared with the accused's truck and drugs to sell for the accused. The accused offered to plead guilty to manslaughter on the basis that the shooting was accidental. The Crown rejected the offer. The accused was tried by judge alone and convicted of second degree murder. The trial judge sentenced to the accused to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 13 years. The Crown appealed, arguing that the period of parole ineligibility should have been 22 years.

The Alberta Court of Appeal, O'Ferrall, J.A., dissenting, allowed the appeal and substituted a period of parole ineligibility of 17 years.

Criminal Law - Topic 5670

Punishments (sentence) - Imprisonment and parole - Parole - Period of ineligibility - In 2006, the victim, who sold drugs for the accused, disappeared with the accused's truck and drugs - Later, the accused lured the victim to a remote location - The accused's intention was to either scare, hurt or kill him - The accused drove to where he stored firearms and retrieved a rifle - The 29 year old accused then shot the victim in the head and left him in a forested area - The accused took other steps to avoid detection (e.g., burned his vehicle and reported it as stolen) - He was employed as a heavy equipment operator until 2005, when he became a cocaine addict - He lost his job and lived nomadically, selling drugs to support his addiction - The Crown rejected the accused's early offer to plead guilty to manslaughter - The accused was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced, at age 35, to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 13 years - The trial judge gave undetermined credit for 44 months' pretrial custody (by offsetting this against aggravating factors that would have warranted a greater period of parole ineligibility) and the offer of a guilty plea to a lesser offence - The Crown appealed the period of parole ineligibility, arguing that the trial judge erred in principle and that 13 years was demonstrably unfit - The Alberta Court of Appeal allowed the appeal - Pre-trial custody was not to be credited against the period of parole ineligibility (time served was part of the life sentence) - The guilty plea offer was also irrelevant in determining parole ineligibility where the accused was convicted of the more serious offence - After considering the accused's character, the nature of the offence, and the circumstances of its commission, Picard, J.A., determined that an appropriate period of parole ineligibility was 17 years - Wakeling, J.A., although finding that 23 years was the appropriate period of parole ineligibility, adopted Picard, J.A.'s 17 years of parole ineligibility to resolve the appeal where O'Ferrall, J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal and left parole ineligibility at 13 years - See paragraphs 1 to 90.

Criminal Law - Topic 5670

Punishments (sentence) - Imprisonment and parole - Parole - Period of ineligibility - At issue was the methodology for fixing an appropriate period of parole ineligibility between 10 and 25 years for a second degree murder conviction - The Alberta Court of Appeal, per Wakeling, J.A., formulated three subsets or categories of second degree murders - Parole ineligibility of 10-15 years would be reserved for the least egregious offences, such as where the accused acted impulsively and killed someone who was not the accused's current or former domestic partner or child, as a result of an incident occurring shortly before the homicide - Parole ineligibility of 16-20 years was reserved for "those offences in which there is often a familial relationship between the offender and the victim. This is the case if the victim is the offender's spouse or common-law partner or offspring. This subset is more egregious than the first subset because of the nature of the relationship between the offender and the victim. ... A parole ineligibility period of sixteen to twenty years inclusive is the appropriate range to commence the analysis if (a) the offender was or had been the domestic partner or was a parent or grandparent of the victim and the homicide was directly attributable to this relationship; (b) the offender betrayed the kindness extended by the victim; or (c) the victim was a vulnerable member of the community." - Finally, Wakeling, J.A., stated that "A parole ineligibility period of twenty-one to twenty-five years inclusive is the appropriate range to commence the analysis if (a) the offender gave consideration to causing the death of the victim well in advance of the act causing the death of the victim; (b) the offender would not have committed the offence but for the offender's engagement in other criminal activities; or (c) the offender committed acts of extreme violence in causing the victim's death." - Picard, J.A., disagreed with the creation of specific categories or subsets of second degree murders to create three separate ranges of parole ineligibility - O'Ferrall, J.A., although dissenting in the result on appeal, stated that "The categories suggested by Justice Wakeling, undoubtedly, will be of assistance to sentencing judges in exercising that discretion, but they should not detract from the fundamental principle that '[s]entencing is an inherently individualized process, and the search for a single appropriate sentence for a similar offender and a similar crime will frequently be a fruitless exercise of academic abstraction' ... Justice Wakeling has done some significant 'heavy lifting' in assisting trial judges called upon to determine parole ineligibility by identifying sentences imposed on arguably similar offenders in arguably similar circumstances. His reasons provide a useful guide and should be welcomed by judges." - See paragraphs 48, 56, 169 to 173, 245.

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R. v. Paterson (D.R.) (2001), 149 B.C.A.C. 56; 244 W.A.C. 56; 151 C.C.C.(3d) 1; 2001 BCCA 11, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 140].

R. v. Neumann (M.), [2005] B.C.T.C. 1820; 2005 BCSC 1820, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 140].

R. v. Czibulka (L.) (2011), 275 O.A.C. 64; 267 C.C.C.(3d) 276; 2011 ONCA 82, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 140].

R. v. Bottineau (E.) (2011), 276 O.A.C. 173; 269 C.C.C.(3d) 227; 2011 ONCA 194, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 141].

R. v. Dooley (E.A.) (2009), 257 O.A.C. 150; 249 C.C.C.(3d) 449; 2009 ONCA 910, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 141].

R. v. McBride (1987), 24 O.A.C. 237 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 171, footnote 141].

R. v. Olsen (L.) and Podniewicz (M.) (1999), 116 O.A.C. 357; 131 C.C.C.(3d) 355 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 171, footnote 141].

R. v. Fuller (M.D.), [2005] A.R. Uned. 86; 2005 ABCA 192, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 143].

R. v. Love (R.J.), [1997] A.R. Uned. 232; 1997 ABCA 222, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 144].

R. v. Campbell (1998), 57 C.C.C.(3d) 200; 1990 ABCA 187, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 144].

R. v. Van Osselaer (P.) (2004), 190 B.C.A.C. 313; 311 W.A.C. 313; 181 C.C.C.(3d) 322; 2004 BCCA 3, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 144].

R. v. Douglas (R.D.) (2007), 417 A.R. 236; 410 W.A.C. 236; 2007 ABCA 321, refd to. [para. 171, footnote 144].

R. v. Price (J.T.), [2001] B.C.A.C. Uned. 98; 2001 BCCA 323, refd to. [para. 173, footnote 151].

R. v. Hammond (K.J.) (2000), 143 B.C.A.C. 126; 235 W.A.C. 126; 2000 BCCA 428, refd to. [para. 173, footnote 151].

R. v. Worth (R.D.) (1995), 80 O.A.C. 369; 98 C.C.C.(3d) 133 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 173, footnote 153].

R. v. Cruz (C.A.) (1998), 106 B.C.A.C. 184; 172 W.A.C. 184; 124 C.C.C.(3d) 157 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 173, footnote 153].

R. v. Ulayuk (E.), [2006] Northwest Terr. Cases (SC) 10; 2006 NWTSC 10, refd to. [para. 182, footnote 164].

R. v. Knoblauch (W.L.), [2000] 2 S.C.R. 780; 262 N.R. 1; 271 A.R. 1; 234 W.A.C. 1; 2000 SCC 58, refd to. [para. 182, footnote 169].

R. v. Hastings (1985), 58 A.R. 108; 1985 ABCA 20, refd to. [para. 185, footnote 172].

R. v. Machell (K.W.) (2003), 190 B.C.A.C. 294; 311 W.A.C. 294; 2003 BCCA 688, refd to. [para. 186, footnote 176].

R. v. Siganto (1998), 194 C.L.R. 656; 1998 HCA 74, refd to. [para. 186, footnote 176].

R. v. Thomson (2000), 49 N.S.W.L.R. 383; 2000 NSWCCA 383, refd to. [para. 186, footnote 178].

R. v. Randhile (S.R.) and Larocque (D.B.) (1997), 209 A.R. 209; 160 W.A.C. 209; 121 C.C.C.(3d) 565; 1997 ABCA 416, refd to. [para. 188, footnote 181].

R. v. Buffrey (1993), 14 Cr. App. R.(S.) 511, refd to. [para. 188, footnote 182].

R. v. Shannon (1979), 21 S.A.S.R. 442; 2000 NSWCCA 309, refd to. [para. 189, footnote 185].

Alberta v. McGeady et al., [2014] 7 W.W.R. 559; 585 A.R. 311; 2014 ABQB 104, affd. (2015), 593 A.R. 147; 637 W.A.C. 147; 2015 ABCA 54, leave to appeal denied 2015 CarswellAlta 1294 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 205, footnote 192].

New Brunswick (Board of Management) v. Dunsmuir, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 190; 372 N.R. 1; 329 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 844 A.P.R. 1; 2008 SCC 9, refd to. [para. 205, footnote 192].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 554; 149 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 205, footnote 192].

Trust and Loan Co. of Canada v. Lawrason (1881), 10 S.C.R. 679, refd to. [para. 213, footnote 197].

Mollett v. Robinson (1872), L.R. 7 C.P. 84 (Ex.), refd to. [para. 213, footnote 197].

R. v. Smoker, 1990 ABCA 17, refd to. [Schedule 2].

R. v. Goodstoney (G.E.) (2008), 440 A.R. 357; 438 W.A.C. 357; 2008 ABCA 401, refd to. [Schedule 2].

Statutes Noticed:

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 745.4 [para. 46].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Alschuler, The Failure of Sentencing Guidelines: A Plea for Less Aggregation (1991), 51 U. Chi. L. Rev. 91, p. 91 [para. 65, footnote 6].

Ashworth, Techniques of Guidance on Sentencing, [1984] Crim. L. Rev. 519, pp. 520 [para. 67, footnote 11]; 530 [para. 77, footnote 31].

Canadian Sentencing Commission, Sentencing Reform: A Canadian Approach (1987), pp. 34 [para. 78, footnote 32]; 81 [para. 65, footnote 3]; 438 [para. 75, footnote 29].

Colvin, C., and Anand, S., Principles of Criminal Law (3rd Ed. 2007), p. 529 [para. 196, footnote 189].

Garner, B., Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012), p. 252 [para. 100, footnote 54].

Gorman, The Effects of Shropshire on Parole Ineligibility for Second Degree Murder (2002), 1 C.R.(6th) 324, p. 342 [Schedule 2].

Grant, Intimate Femicide: A Study of Sentencing Trends for Men Who Kill Their Intimate Partners (2010), 47 Alta. L. Rev. 779, p. 815 [para. 171, footnote 142].

Henham, Truth in Plea-bargaining:Anglo-American Approaches to the Use of Guilty Plea Discounts at the Sentencing Stage (2000), 29 Anglo-Am. L. Rev. 1, generally [para. 186, footnote 176].

Johnson, Consistency in Sentencing for Federal Offences - Challenges for Sentencing Courts in an Evolving Landscape (Federal Crime and Sentencing Conference Feb. 11-12, 2012) (Canberra), pp. 26, 27 [para. 77, footnote 31].

Jones and Rankin, Justice as a Rounding Error?: Evidence of Subconscious Bias in Second-Degree Murder Sentences in Canada (2014), 52 Osgoode Hall L.J. 109, pp. 120 [para. 64, footnote 2]; 124 [para. 119, footnote 78].

La Fave, W., and Scott, A., Handbook on Criminal Law (1972), p. 200 [para. 196, footnote 189].

Lederman, W., Continuing Canadian Constitutional Dilemmas (1981), p. 271 [para. 144, footnote 106].

Mueller and Le Poole, Appellate Review of Legal but Excessive Sentences (1968), 21 Vand. L. Rev. 411, p. 417 [para. 79, footnote 38].

Norris, Sentencing for Second-Degree Murder: R. v. Shropshire (1996), 1 Can. Crim L. Rerv. 199, pp. 201 [para. 140, footnote 102]; 205 [para. 117, footnote 73]; 210, 211 [para. 136, footnote 96].

Rankin, The Origins, Evolution and Puzzling Irrelevance of Jury Recommendations in Second-Degree Murder Sentencing (2015), 40 Queen's L.J. 531, pp. 544, 545 [para. 64, footnote 2].

Sullivan, Ruth, Sullivan on the Construction of Statutes (6th Ed. 2014), p. 416 [para. 100, footnote 54].

Thomas, Sentencing in England (1983), 42 Md. L. Rev. 90, p. 99 [para. 77, footnote 31].

United Kingdom, Sentencing Guidelines Council, Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea: Definitive Guideline (2007 Rev.), p. 5 [para. 188, footnote 182].

von Hirsh, A., Doing Justice: The choice of Punishments (1976), p. 66 [para. 161, footnote 123].

Williams, Glanville, Criminal Law (1961), pp. 52, 53 [para. 196, footnote 189].

Williams, Glanville, Textbook of Criminal Law (2nd Ed. 1983), pp. 427 to 429 [para. 196, footnote 189].

Counsel:

T.L. Couillard, for the appellant;

S.M. Renouf, Q.C., and A. Badari, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on March 17, 2015, before Picard, O'Ferrall and Wakeling, JJ.A., of the Alberta Court of Appeal.

On September 11, 2015, the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered and the following opinions were filed:

Picard, J.A. - see paragraphs 1 to 61;

Wakeling, J.A. - see paragraphs 62 to 216;

O'Ferrall, J.A., dissenting - see paragraphs 217 to 245.

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63 practice notes
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