Ex-Yk gymnastics coach, convicted of child luring, to find out Friday if one-year sentence violates his Charter rights

Yellowknife Courthouse (CKLB File photo).

A Yellowknife judge is to release her decision Friday as to whether a one-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for child luring violates a man’s constitutional rights.

Ex-Yellowknife gymnastics coach Ricky Lee Sutherland, 50, and his lawyer argued in court Monday that it would violate his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

He was convicted in May on what would have been the first day of his trial for sending a photo of his private parts on Snapchat to one of his gymnasts and requested her to send him explicit photos in return

The maximum sentence for child luring in Canada is 14 years in prison.

Sutherland, who pleaded guilty to the offence, now lives in Ontario.

His victim was under 18 years old when Sutherland sent her the photo and messages in a failed attempt to lure her into sending him sexually explicit photos of herself.

Sutherland’s lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass says that a year in jail would cause undue hardship for his family because he is the sole breadwinner.

She adds that Sutherland has apologized to his victim, adding there is no proof that he is a predator and that he is of no danger to society.

The lawyer called for a sentence of “three to six to nine months.”

Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane, in calling for a sentence of 18 months, pointed out that Snapchat messages disappear from the Internet quite quickly so it’s difficult for parents to regulate.

He suggested Sutherland used Snapchat by design so that it would disappear.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau will give her decision on the Charter challenge Friday.

Regardless of her decision, a sentencing hearing for Sutherland is to begin on August 18.


About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.