Kamloops judge sorts botched bail order in odd sentencing case - InfoNews

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Kamloops judge sorts botched bail order in odd sentencing case

August 22, 2019 - 7:00 PM

KAMLOOPS — A poor bail decision for an unusual and ultimately ineffective sentence was sorted in court last month after a man ordered to leave B.C. was re-arrested in Kamloops a week later, then inexplicably released again.

Owen James Blaber, born 1992, was sentenced on May 6 for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. His lawyer and the Crown agreed his sentence should be three years probation — far less than normal because he agreed to leave B.C. for three years, a condition deemed necessary to keep the woman safe.

He was supposed to be gone within 36 hours but Blaber was found just six days later sitting on a log along the riverbank on the North Shore by a Kamloops RCMP officer. He was arrested and held in custody until May 31 where he was released from custody again by a provincial court judge in Kamloops.

But the Crown said in a recent appeal that was a mistake and Supreme Court Justice Gary Weatherill agreed. He said the terms of the odd sentence can’t be satisfied with a regular bail order.

“The effect of (granting bail) was to bypass the terms of the probation order,” he said in a decision published this week. "Mr. Blaber could not be released on (bail) terms that allowed him to continue to breach a probation order."

Weatherill ordered Blaber be taken back into custody.
Blaber was sentenced for assaulting his former girlfriend, threatening her and trashing the hotel room she lived in. At the original sentencing, the Crown explained why it suggested such an unusual sentence.

“While the Crown might ordinarily have been asking for a much longer jail sentence for Mr. Blaber… Mr.Blaber’s willingness to agree to a term that is essentially going to have him leave British Columbia for three years achieves those goals (protecting the victim), so the Crown is asking for a much less jail term than it otherwise would,” Crown counsel said in the decision.

Blaber told he court he arranged a ride with his uncle who was a trucker based out of Vancouver, who would take him to Alberta that afternoon after his sentencing hearing.

Stella Frame, the sentencing judge, was uncomfortable with the sentence before accepting it. Judges are largely compelled to accept sentencing submissions endorsed by Crown and defence.

“This conduct is undoubtedly horrifying to (the complainant) and I am struggling with it being appropriate,” Judge Stella Frame said in the decision. “It is a joint submission which means that if it is a fit sentence I have to go along with it anyway.”

When he was arrested, Blaber represented himself at the bail hearing and said he couldn't leave B.C. after his ride become stuck in Vancouver.

It took two judges and two bail hearings but Blaber seemed to understand his plight from the beginning.
“I don't have the financial means (to leave B.C.),” he said. “So I mean every time you guys breach me on that, it’s going to waste taxpayers time, it’s going to waste my time.”

"That’s going to screw me because you guys have it on my probation that I’m barred out of B.C.,” he said.” As soon as I get out on bail you guys are going to put me right back here.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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.

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