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Why a Penticton Supreme court case is considered precedent setting

Counsel participating in the sentencing hearing for John Ike Koopmans consider the case precedent setting since the introduction of Bill C-48 by the Conservative government in February, 2011.
September 25, 2015 - 5:52 PM

PENTICTON - What is a fair sentence for a double homicide since the Conservative’s introduction of Bill C-48?

That was the central question in arguments made by Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski and defence lawyer Don Skogstad as the two sides continued their submissions to Madam Justice Miriam Maisonville in the sentencing of John Ike Koopmans Friday afternoon, September 25.

The Parliament of Canada website defines Bill C-48 as an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act (Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act.) The bill was passed the House of Commons on February 1, 2011.

“It’s a first opportunity for the courts to explore the ramifications of Bill C-48 in the context of a double homicide committed with a handgun,” says Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski.

“For years the courts have been developing a legal precedent that suggests the proliferation of handgun use in British Columbia and the rest of Canada is a serious issue, so I think this is a good case they can look at and set a precedent. Mr. Koopmans is by far not the worst kind of offender, but if he receives a severe sentence for this, it will send a message,” he says.

Dubenski says it seems most multiple murder cases dealt with so far under Bill C-48 have involved guilty pleas and subsequent joint submissions.

“So there has been some negotiation in the resolution of the matters. This seems to be the first case in B.C. where there has been no joint submission,” he says.

Defence lawyer Don Skogstad feels the reasoning behind Bill C-48 is not motivated by a desire to improve the legal system.

“There’s no other effect for the bill than to get more votes for the Conservatives,” he says. “If you want to increase sentences, they know how to do that, by raising minimums.”

Skogstad says judges were already imposing long sentences, adding the sentence proposed by Crown counsel in Koopmans case - 30 years - has been imposed in a other cases, but for much more heinous crimes than Koopmans’. He is requesting a sentence of 17.5 years less time and a half served, while Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski is asking for two consecutive 15-year terms for second degree murder, and a concurrent life sentence for attempted murder.

Madam Justice Miriam Maisonville is expected to render her decision October 6 in the matter.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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