Judge rules 1-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for man guilty of child luring does not violate his Constitutional rights

Yellowknife Courthouse (CKLB File photo).

A Yellowknife judge has ruled that a one-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for child luring does not violate a man’s Constitutional rights.

Supreme Court Judge Louise Charbonneau announced her decision in court Friday.

She did not divulge her reasons for the decision but said that will come out in writing as soon as possible.

It comes after a former Yellowknife man, Ricky Lee Sutherland, 50, filed a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, arguing that the one year jail sentence would cause undo hardship for him and his family, and would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

The ex-Yellowknife gymnastics coach and former bylaw officer 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 requesting she 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 from Ontario in a failed attempt to lure her into sending him sexually explicit photos of herself.

His lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass 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.

Charbonneau will preside over a sentencing hearing for Sutherland which is to begin on August 19.

Sutherland, who was in court for the decision, voluntarily agreed to be placed in custody following his charter hearing earlier this week.


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.