The teen was handed a nine-month youth sentence earlier this year for brandishing and pointing a loaded, sawed-off shotgun in a public place. The punishment was three months longer than prosecutors were seeking.
'That this punk thinks he can walk around, you know, with a sling under his jacket concealing a sawed-off firearm. I mean that – while he's on probation and a weapons prohibition. I mean it's insane.'—Manitoba judgeAt the time of the offence, he was out on probation for drug-trafficking and subject to a sweeping prohibition barring him from possessing a range of weapons, including guns.
Court also heard at his sentencing hearing that the teen had fashioned a sling under his jacket allowing him to easily conceal the shotgun.
After hearing the Crown's argument for giving the teen jail time — but before the defence lawyer had a chance to speak — the judge remarked:
"That this punk thinks he can walk around, you know, with a sling under his jacket concealing a sawed-off firearm. I mean that – while he's on probation and a weapons prohibition. I mean it's insane," the judge said.
The teen and his lawyer appealed, saying the comment rendered the hearing unfair and that the nine month sentence was too harsh.
No biasBut in a written decision released to the public on Tuesday, Justice Freda Steel of Manitoba's Court of Appeal said there was no suggestion of bias in the case based on the judge's remarks. She did not identify the judge in question.
While the judge shouldn't have called the teen a punk, the judge shouldn't have to mince words, Steel suggested.
"As a representative of the community, the judge has an important role in emphasizing society's disapproval and condemnation need not be cloaked in neutral or euphemistic language," she stated.
Put in context of the facts of the case, "a reasonable person who was there for the entire proceedings would have felt the matter was decided fairly," Steel wrote.
The teen was granted leave to appeal his case to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is not yet known if he will.
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the teen cannot be identified.
The 9 month sentence was much too harsh. I would like to know more about the teen's background and other mitigating factors in this case. I would have agreed to some jail time, because the teen did violate his probation meaning a more restrictive measure is needed. However, 9 months is too harsh. I would have argued for between 3 and 5 months.