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Supreme Court to rule in plea bargain case

October 20, 2016

For Immediate Release

Ottawa – Tomorrow, October 21, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada will issues its decision in the case of R. v. Anthony-Cook. The case concerns when a sentencing judge may deviate from a joint sentencing submission agreed to by both the Crown and the defence. The BCCLA is an intervener in the case and made oral submissions at the hearing.

The case arose out of a tragic death on February 9, 2013. Mr. Anthony-Cook had been at a drop-in centre operated by the Kettle Friendship Society, a Vancouver facility providing assistance to people suffering from mental health and addiction issues. The appellant has a long-standing mental health disorder, as well as substance abuse problems. He created a disturbance at the facility and was asked to leave. Outside the centre he encountered Mr. Gregory, a volunteer at the centre. An altercation ensued, and Mr. Anthony-Cook punched Mr. Gregory. Mr. Gregory fell backwards and died of a skull fracture when his head hit the pavement.

Mr. Anthony-Cook pled guilty to manslaughter, and his defence counsel and Crown agreed that an additional 18 months incarceration, in addition to the time he had spent in pre-trial custody, was appropriate. However, the sentencing judge disagreed with the joint submission and increased the sentence, concluding that a sentence of three years of additional incarceration was appropriate.

The BCCLA argued that a sentencing judge should not lightly disregard a joint sentencing submission agreed to by Crown and defence counsel. Only when the joint submission would produce a clearly unreasonable or demonstrably unfit sentence should the submission be rejected. When the accused’s liberty is on the line, it is imperative that judges show deference to the Crown’s exercise of discretion in agreeing to an appropriate sentence.

The BCCLA is represented in this case by Ryan Dalziel and Emily Lapper of Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP.

Our argument is available here.

What: Supreme Court of Canada to rule in the case of R. v. Anthony-Cook

When: Friday, October 21, 2016 at 6:45 am PT/ 9:45 am ET

Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

Who:  BCCLA representatives available for comment