KELOWNA – A Kelowna man serving seven years for being “boyfriend and girlfriend” with a 12-year-old says the courts took too long, he didn’t mean to enter a guilty plea and the sentence imposed is too harsh.
He wants charges thrown out and to be released from jail while he waits.
Kelowna RCMP began investigating Steven Craig Walsh, 47, in May 2012 after employees at a local hotel told police a man and a young girl he said was his daughter were seen kissing in a hot tub.
“One witness says she saw them acting like boyfriend and girlfriend,” Crown lawyer Dave Grabavac said on the first day of sentencing submissions in Kelowna Provincial Court, Dec. 5, 2016.
Walsh was arrested at the hotel in November 2012 after the victim admitted to police that Walsh “got too close.”
When police searched the hotel room they found a camera with pictures of the girl asleep naked next to a stuffed animal. Grabavac says over 120 images and video met the definition of child pornography.
He pleaded guilty to and was convicted of sexual interference and making child pornography and sentenced to seven years in December 2016.
The very next month Walsh applied for a stay of proceedings alleging a violation of his Charter right to a trial within a reasonable time, among other reasons, but last week Justice E. D. Savage denied him his freedom, calling his chance of a successful appeal “weak.”
“Walsh’s changes of counsel, failure to attend a psychiatric appointment, and lack of timely cooperation in preparing an agreed statement of facts were attributed to the defence,” Savage writes in his decision released March 30, 2017.
He goes on to address Walsh’s claim that his lawyer entered his guilty plea without his consent “while he was mentally incapacitated” and that Crown changed the terms of a plea bargain he had agreed to.
“In my view, (Walsh’s) grounds for impugning the validity of his guilty pleas are weak. He was represented by counsel at the time, and has advanced only bald assertions that counsel acted against his instructions.
“Walsh himself entered the pleas, and he has not provided any cogent evidence of coercion or duress.”
Walsh also submitted 39 cases he says were more serious than his case where lower sentences were imposed and wants at least one charge stayed or for the sentences to run concurrent to each other.
His request was denied, with Savage taking particular issue with Walsh's plan to be released into the custody of his common-law partner, “a young nursing student” who herself has a young child.
“(Walsh) pleaded guilty to serious offences against a vulnerable person and has not demonstrated any remorse or treatment plan,” Savage writes.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.