VANCOUVER - A Vancouver courtroom erupted in bittersweet cheers on Friday as a convicted sex offender who fed two teenage girls booze and drugs and then did nothing to help them as they slowly died was found guilty of criminal negligence causing their deaths.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler also found Martin Tremblay guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to the March 2010 deaths of 17-year-old Martha Jackson and 16-year-old Kayla Lalonde.
Butler said the girls had already been drinking in a Burnaby park when Tremblay — a drug dealer referred to by Lalonde as her "street dad" — invited them to his house to continue the party.
There, he gave them more alcohol and powdered methadone which they snorted off his kitchen table.
When Lalonde became ill that evening, Tremblay and a female acquaintance loaded her into his car and drove her to meet a drug-dealing colleague in Burnaby. There, Tremblay dumped her unconscious but still breathing onto the street.
"He should have sought immediate medical attention for her," Butler said. "If he had done so, there's a substantial likelihood she would not have died."
Back in Richmond, Tremblay noticed that evening that Jackson was non-responsive but he didn't seek medical help for her either.
"Instead of monitoring the situation, he took advantage of them," Butler said, referring to Jackson and another teen.
Tremblay, who in 2003 pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault, videotaped himself fondling the two girls.
His actions showed "wanton and reckless disregard for their well-being," Butler said.
Dozens of family members and friends of the girls came to hear the verdict, leading sheriffs to request a larger courtroom.
As Tremblay was led into the prisoner's box Lalonde's aunt stood up holding a poster with a picture of the pretty brown-eyed teenager with the message: In loving memory of Kayla Lalonde.
Both girls were aboriginal, and an elder held an eagle feather while others wiped away tears as the verdict was read out.
Outside the court, Lalonde's mother, Angela Lalonde, said she felt justice had been done for her daughter.
"No matter what happens it won't bring back our daughter," said Grant Petrygan, her husband.
Kelvin Bee, Kayla Lalonde's great-uncle, expressed relief that Tremblay will be off the street.
"The family is happy that the judge came through ... and not just for our family alone, but for the young women that the predators are out there for," Bee told reporters outside the court.
"Our family still carries the grief. It's just like reburying a loved one again."
Jackson's mother cried while the judge delivered the verdict and left without comment.
Tremblay, who faces trial in May on seven other charges related to similar sexual assaults on teenaged girls, could be jailed indefinitely if a dangerous offender designation was imposed.
"The Crown is considering sentencing options," said Neil MacKenzie, spokesman for the criminal justice branch. "Certainly a dangerous offender application is within the range the Crown will be considering, but a final decision has not been made on that as yet."
Lalonde's family wants him declared a dangerous offender, which could mean an indefinite sentence. Details of the sex assaults committed the night Lalonde and Jackson died "sent us for a loop," Petrygan said.
"I was shaking. I just about passed out; Angie was crying," he said. "She was already passed out and dying as he was laying his hands on her. That's sick. That's a dangerous offender."
Tremblay will return to court March 6 to set a date for his sentencing.
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15 Things Critics Fear In The Tory Crime Bill
Opposition parties, professionals working within the corrections and justice systems, the Canadian Bar Association and various other interest groups have raised wide-ranging concerns about the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">omnibus crime bill</a>. Here is an overview of some of their objections. (CP/Alamy)
15. Harsher Sentences For Young Offenders
Changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act will impose tougher sentences for violent and repeat young offenders, make it easier to keep such offenders in custody prior to trial and expand the definition of what is considered a "violent offence" to include "creating a substantial likelihood of causing bodily harm" rather than just causing, attempting to cause or threatening to cause bodily harm. The new legislation will also require the Crown to consider adult sentences for offenders convicted of "serious violent offences" and require judges to consider lifting the publication ban on names of offenders convicted of "violent offences" even when they have been given youth sentences. Some of the concerns around these provisions raised by some of the professionals who work with young offenders include: (Alamy)
14. Young Offenders - Naming Names
The publication of names of some young offenders will unjustly stigmatize them for life. Quebec has asked that provinces be allowed to opt out of this provision. (Getty)
13. Young Offenders - Stiffer Sentences
Stiffer, longer sentences will turn young offenders into hardened criminals and undermine any potential for rehabilitation. (Alamy)
12. Young Offenders - Minorities Take The Brunt
As with other parts of the crime bill, critics says harsher sentencing rules and increased emphasis on incarceration will <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/20/bill-c-10-omnibus-crime_n_1289536.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">disproportionately affect aboriginal</a> and black Canadians, who are already over-represented in the criminal justice system. (Alamy)
11. Young Offenders - Forget Rehabilitation
The changes shift the emphasis of the Act from rehabilitation to "protection of society," which critics say will put the focus on punishing young offenders rather than steering them away from a life of crime. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/22/crime-bill-quebec-canada_n_1107717.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">Quebec, in particular, which prides itself on the success of the rehabilitative aspects of its youth justice system, has argued for stronger language prioritizing rehabilitation</a>. (Alamy)
10. Fewer Conditional Sentences
The legislation will eliminate conditional sentences, those served in the community or under house arrest, for a range of crimes, including sexual assault, manslaughter, arson, drug trafficking, kidnapping and fraud or theft over $5,000. It will also eliminate double credit for time already served. Critics say these changes will: (Getty)
9. Fewer Conditional Sentences - Spike Costs
Cost the federal and provincial justice and corrections systems millions of additional dollars a year. The parliamentary budget officer, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/28/omnibus-crime-bill-costs-conditional-sentences_n_1306528.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">Kevin Page, has estimated that the average cost per offender will rise from approximately $2,600 to $41,000</a> as a consequence of the elimination of conditional sentences. (Alamy)
8. Fewer Conditional Sentences - More Trials And Hearings
- Lead to more trials as those accused of crimes will be less likely to plead guilty if they know there is no chance they will get a conditional sentence and will be more likely to take their chances on a trial. Some have predicted this will lead to greater backlogs in an already backlogged court system. - Result in more parole hearings. Page's analysis predicted that with the increase in the number of incarcerations, there will be more offenders coming up for parole, which will increase costs for federal and provincial parole review boards. A single review by the Parole Board of Canada costs an estimated $4,289, Page estimated. (Alamy)
7. Mandatory Minimums
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/22/bill-c-10-drugs-mandatory-minimums-omnibus_n_1292894.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">By far the most criticized aspect of the bill is the introduction of mandatory jail sentences for certain crimes, including drug trafficking, sex crimes, child exploitation and some violent offences</a>. Opponents of the measures have argued that this type of sentencing has been tried in other jurisdictions, most notably in the U.S., and has created more problems than it has solved. Critics say that coupled with other changes in the bill, such as increases in the maximum sentences handed down to some drug offenders and sexual predators and elimination of conditional sentences in some cases, mandatory minimums will burden Canada's prison and court systems in ways that are unfeasible, untenable and have little benefit. In particular, they argue that mandatory minimum sentences will: (Jupiter Images)
6. Mandatory Minimums - Higher Costs
Increase the costs of prosecuting and incarcerating offenders and leave fewer funds for rehabilitation programs. (Alamy)
5. Mandatory Minimums - Overcrowding
Lead to overcrowding in prisons. (Alamy)
4. Mandatory Minimums - Make Judges Less Powerful
- Remove judges' discretion to tailor sentences to the specifics of a particular case and offender and force them to apply blanket, one-size-fits-all sentences regardless of circumstances - Limit the use of alternate sentencing measures of the type currently applied to aboriginal offenders. (Alamy)
3. Mandatory Minimums - Over-Punish Drug Offenders
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/02/omnibus-crime-bill-pierre-claude-nolin_n_1316481.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill" target="_hplink">Disproportionately punish small-time drug offenders and have limited effect on the drug producers, organized crime bosses and serious drug traffickers</a> the government says it wants to target. (Alamy)
2. Mandatory Minimums - What's The Point?
Have little rehabilitative effect on offenders and rather leave them more, not less, likely to re-offend. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/27/tough-on-crime-conservatives-doubt-tough-sentences_n_1115012.html?ref=omnibus-crime-bill">Critics point to numerous studies showing harsher incarceration laws do not have a deterrent effect on criminals or lower crime rates</a>. (Alamy)
1. Mandatory Minimums - What Charter?
Violate provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and open up the government to legal challenges on grounds that the sentencing rules violate certain rights that offenders have under the Charter, such as the right to liberty, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. (Alamy)