April 12, 2012
Graham James sentence appealed
By DEAN PRITCHARD, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - The Crown is appealing a two-year prison sentence handed down to sexual predator Graham James last month.
The former junior hockey coach and scout was convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting former NHL star Theo Fleury and Fleury’s cousin Todd Holt between 1983 and 1994.
In an appeal filed Thursday, prosecutors argued Judge Catherine Carlson over-emphasized the significance of prior sentences for similar offences and erred in her assessment of the totality principle.
The totality principle is invoked in cases where multiple convictions and consecutive sentences can result in disproportionately long prison terms. Prosecutors had recommended James be sentenced to six years in prison.
“I think it’s good that the Crown is appealing what was an atrocious sentence,” said Greg Gilhooly, another young hockey player sexually victimized by James.
Charges involving Gilhooly were stayed as part of a plea bargain between James and the Crown.
“The notion that totality kicks in, so you have a monster who does something bad (hundreds of times) and you just look at the monster as if he did a couple of things bad, is a joke,” Gilhooly said. “If you have a monster you treat him like a monster, not like he did something bad just three or four times.”
James was previously sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in connection with his abuse of two junior hockey players — including former NHLer and Elkhorn, Man., native Sheldon Kennedy — and another young victim. James served 18 months before completing his parole in 2000.
Had James entered guilty pleas to all his crimes in 1997, an appropriate sentence would have been six years, Carlson said last month.
Fleury and Holt derided the sentence as a “national travesty.” Earlier this month, Tory justice critic Kelvin Goertzen pushed Justice Minister Andrew Swan to order an appeal of the sentence.
“The sentence did not fit the crime and was a questionable interpretation of Canadian law,” Goertzen said.
An appeal date has not been set.