Apr 1, 2015

Parity is not Considered in Isolation

R. v. Uniat, 2015 ONCA 197 (CanLII)

Christopher Uniat was 18 years old. He decided to do a home invasion with some friends. He carried a shotgun with him. Once in the home Uniat held the occupants at gun point. He threatened to shoot them – the gun was in fact not loaded. Uniat was arrested and charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He pleaded guilty to both charges. The sentencing judge imposed a sentence of 7 years jail. Uniat appealed: 2015 ONCA 197.

On appeal Uniat argued that the sentencing judge erred by failing to properly apply the principle of parity and placing too little weight on rehabilitative prospects of Uniat. Both grounds were readily rejected.

First, the principle of parity was not offended; while Uniat received a sentence in excess of his co-accused, it was warranted and his circumstances and involvement justify the departure.

The principle of parity does not require equivalent or near equivalent sentences to be imposed on all participants in a joint venture, irrespective of their role in the offence, their backgrounds and circumstances, and the manner in which their participation in the offences is resolved by the courts. The other principals were also youthful, but resolved their charges earlier on the basis of joint submissions. None had accumulated the impressive number of robbery convictions achieved by the appellant, or demonstrated such an unremitting unwillingness to abide by the terms of court orders or forms of release. The sentencing judge was well aware of the roles assigned to the others, their antecedents and the basis upon which their cases were resolved. The parity principle was not offended. [Emphasis added]; [@6].

Second, the sentencing judge did not lose sight of the objective of rehabilitation. Uniat’s troubling criminal past and failure under court orders undermined reliance on rehabilitation to justify a decrease in sentence.

Nor did the sentencing judge lose sight of the objective of rehabilitation. But sadly there is little positive revealed about those prospects. The appellant has proceeded with depressing regularity from one robbery to another, ignoring along the way his obligations under existing court orders. The pre-sentence report paints a bleak picture about the future. The appellant exhibits no remorse. Despite his youth, rehabilitation must occupy a secondary place in this sentencing analysis. The sentencing judge accorded it its due. [@8].

The sentence imposed by the sentencing judge, L’Oignon J, was fit and properly considered the relevant principles. The seven year sentence is significant for an 18 year old offender, but properly considered, it was warranted and just.