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Youth Criminal Justice System Assignment
CASE: “Bathtub Murders Sisters”
• On January 18, 2003, two teen girls, aged 15 and 16 called 911 to say they had found
their mother dead in a bathtub full of water
• The coroner ruled that the alcoholic woman had drank too much alcohol and
accidentally drowned in the bathtub
• The police closed the investigation and the two girls were about to collect the life
insurance policy
• However, in October, 2003 the police re-opened the case after a family friend went to
police claiming the sisters had confessed to the crime
• The friend secretly taped conversations in which the sisters confessed to drugging their
mother with Tylenol 4 and when she was unconscious, one sister held her mother’s head
underwater while the other sister watched
• A new autopsy revealed an overdose of codeine, an ingredient in Tylenol 4 and the two
sisters were charged with murder
• At trial, the two teenage sisters were found guilty of first degree murder
• In the case of murder, it is up to the judge to decide whether to hand out an adult
sentence or a youth sentence
• Adult Sentence: If the sisters had been given an adult sentence they could have received
a life sentence in jail with no possibility of parole for 25 years, the minimum sentence
would have been 10 years in an adult jail
• Youth Sentence: The maximum youth sentence would be 10 years in custody
• In this case, the judge sentenced the girls to six years in a detention centre and four
years in a halfway house
Youth Criminal Youth System Assignment
CASE: R. v. B.W.P.
B.W.P., an aboriginal young person, pled guilty to manslaughter and to an unrelated
offence of theft. The theft charge related to stolen speakers and is not relevant to this
appeal. The charge of manslaughter arose out of a fight between B.W.P. and Saleh, a 22year-old refugee from Iraq. The fight started when B.W.P., who was intoxicated at the
time, asked Saleh why he was staring at the two women who were with B.W.P. Saleh
thereupon exited his vehicle and challenged B.W.P. to fight. During the course of the
fight, B.W.P. swung a stocking-covered pool ball hitting Saleh’s head two or three times.
Saleh was able to drive away, but died from his head injuries a short time later. With no
family members residing in Canada, Saleh’s body was returned to Iraq for burial.
Attempts to contact members of the family were unsuccessful and no victim impact
statement was available at the sentence hearing. Considerable evidence was called
concerning B.W.P.’s background and character including a transfer report, a pre-sentence
report, psychological assessment reports and youth bail management reports.
B.W.P., a young person, killed a man during a fight and pled guilty to manslaughter.
After reviewing the relevant provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”), the
sentencing judge held that general deterrence was no longer a principle of sentencing
under the new YCJA regime. He also disagreed with the Crown’s position that
ss. 42(2)(n) and 42(2)(o) of the YCJA must be read in tandem so as to require the court to
impose two-thirds of the sentence in custody and one-third under supervision. Rather, he
took the view that s. 42(2)(o) gave him the discretion to determine the appropriate length
of the custody and supervision portions of the sentence. He sentenced B.W.P. to a
15-month custody and supervision order. He directed that B.W.P. serve one day in open
custody and the remainder of the 15 months under conditional supervision in the
community. The Manitoba Court of Appeal affirmed the sentencing judge’s decision.
Youth Criminal Justice System Assignment
Case: R. v. B.V.N.
B.V.N. pled guilty to the offence of aggravated assault causing bodily harm. The charge
arose out of B.V.N.’s activities as a drug dealer. A few days before the assault in
question, B.V.N. and an associate accosted the complainant — a drug addict — over a
drug debt, held a gun to his head, clicking the trigger several times, forced him into a car
and took him to a relative’s house to get money. That incident ended when the relative
phoned the police, forcing B.V.N. and his associate to flee. A few days later, B.V.N. and
his associate again accosted the complainant, threatened, punched, kicked and stabbed
him. The complainant spent several days in the hospital.
B.V.N., also a young person, pled guilty to the offence of aggravated assault causing
bodily harm and was sentenced under s. 42(2)(n) of the YCJA to nine-month custody and
supervision order, with the custodial part of the order to be spent in closed custody. Both
the sentencing judge and the British Columbia Court of Appeal concluded that general
deterrence is one factor, albeit a minor one, in determining the appropriate sentence under
the YCJA. The Court of Appeal noted that this factor did not increase the sentence that
would otherwise have been imposed.
Youth Criminal Justice System Assignment
Case: R.v.AM
The police accepted a long-standing invitation by the principal of a high school to bring
sniffer dogs into the school to search for drugs. The police had no knowledge that drugs
were present in the school and would not have been able to obtain a warrant to search the
school. The search took place while all the students were confined to their classrooms. In
the gymnasium, the sniffer dog reacted to one of the unattended backpacks lined up
against a wall. Without obtaining a warrant, the police opened the backpack and found
illicit drugs. They charged the student who owned the backpack with possession of
cannabis marihuana and psilocybin for the purpose of trafficking. At trial, the accused
brought an application for exclusion of the evidence, arguing that his rights under s. 8 of
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated. The trial judge
allowed the application, finding two unreasonable searches: the search conducted with
the sniffer dog and the search of the backpack. He excluded the evidence and acquitted
the accused. The Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal.
Youth Criminal Justice System Assignment
Case: N.A. J. v. R
In September 2002, N.A.J and his co- accused were drinking and stole a boat.
They went for a boat ride with two women they met, and they drank more alcohol.
Shortly after they had stolen it, the boat became stuck in buoys, and the coast guard and
RCMP were notified.
At the scene, the two young men told the police a false story about a fifth person
who owned the boat.
According to the story, the owner left when the boat got stuck. Later the two women told
the authorities that this story was not true. N.A.J and his friend were arrested and charged
with joyriding and causing damage to property.
N.A.J was 16 years old, a first time offender, and had left school in grade 7. At
the time of his hearing, he had been employed with a government department for nearly
eight months. He blamed his behavior on his surroundings and associates, and excessive
use of alcohol. He was also concerned about compensating the boat’s owner for damages
to the boat.
At trial, N.A.J pleaded guilty to the charges. The Crown asked for a term open
custody, followed by a lengthy probation and restitution. The defense asked for a noncustody sentence, restitution and community service. The trial judge sentenced N.A.J to
three months open custody, 20 months probation and nearly $4000 in restitution.