National Post

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Thursday, May 27, 1999

Home sentences could backfire, high court warned

Tim Naumetz
Southam News

OTTAWA - Liberal application of a federal law that allows convicted criminals to serve all their jail time at home could erode confidence in the courts and lead to vigilante justice, the Supreme Court of Canada was warned yesterday.

Wayne Groman, a Newfoundland Crown prosecutor, urged the Supreme Court to overturn a 21-month conditional sentence handed down to man convicted of sexually assaulting his cousin for six years when she was a child.

Arguing conditional sentences should not be applied in convictions involving sexual assaults against children, Mr. Gorman predicted home sentences in such cases will lead to a loss of respect for the justice system and courts in general. Mr. Gorman argued that could lead victims and the public to assume they must seek out justice themselves through acts of revenge.

"If conditional sentencing leads people to taking the law into their own hands . . . then that also is a danger to the public," he said.

The case is one of six appeals the Supreme Court selected to hear this week in an attempt to review how Canada's 1996 conditional sentencing law is being applied.

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