Six-month sentence 'unfit' for Kamloops man who paid young girl in food, cash for nude photos - InfoNews

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Six-month sentence 'unfit' for Kamloops man who paid young girl in food, cash for nude photos

July 05, 2019 - 2:06 PM

KAMLOOPS — Crown prosecutors are appealing the six-month sentence handed a Kamloops man who admitted to paying a young girl in cash and food in exchange for nude photos.

Justin McGowan, 36, was sentenced in March by provincial court Judge Roy Dickey on one count of arranging a sexual offence against a child and possession of child pornography which was the mandatory minimum sentence for this type of offence. He remains in custody during the appeal process.

Prosecutor Frank Caputo argued in Kamloops court today, July 5, that the sentence itself was unfit for the severity of the crime.

“The trial judge failed to adequately address the number of principles by law in imposing this sentence,” Caputo said.

Caputo had originally submitted a sentence of 12 to 18 months with McGowan’s guilty plea. Without the guilty plea, Crown lawyers were looking at a two- to three-year sentence range for the offences.

“We are not just talking about one person getting a child sex abuse image, we are talking about what does that say to the public about how we treat this offence?” Caputo said.

In September 2018, McGowan responded to a post by the victim, who was 13 years old at the time, on the app Whisper which allows users to speak with each other anonymously online.

McGowan's lawyer, Don Campbell, says when the two initially communicated, his client was responding to a post that read, "super bored, feeling risky, anyone want to meet up with me in Kamloops?"

Despite knowing the girl's age, McGowan still asked the young girl for nude photos to which she replied no, court heard.

He offered payment in the form of ordering pizza and desserts to the girl’s house and also left $100 inside of a hooded sweatshirt outside the girl’s home.

When the girl sent the photos, McGowan asked the young girl to come to his house.

"This may be an unfair characterization given her age but she is controlling the situation," Campbell said.

Justice Joel Groves interrupted Campbell during his submissions to state that McGowan was the adult in the situation and should have known better.

"Sir, he's the adult and the adult response when you are trolling the internet for a hookup or whatever and you find out someone is 13 is 'call me in six years,'" Groves said.

Caputo says the sentencing judge failed to address several factors.

“In an offence against a child you can have all these mitigating factors but denunciation and deterrence are number one, period,” he says. “It’s my submission that the sentence imposed by the trial judge failed to factor the paramounts of those two principles.”

Campbell argued the sentencing judge considered all the relevant factors appropriately while emphasizing his client was suffering emotionally when this incident occurred.

McGowan was going through a five-day bender using both alcohol and cocaine and suffered frequently from blackouts, court heard.

Since he was arrested, Campbell says his client has been sober and he is attending alcoholics and narcotics anonymous, as well as receiving mental health support.

Following his arrest, McGowan who is a father of five was barred from seeing his children.

Campbell says it was a long process to work with the Ministry to ameliorate their concerns so he could see his children.

“He worked it out so he is getting to see his children so there is the least amount of disruption in their lives,” Campbell says. “But still, someone who loves their family and is kept from their family that’s a measure of deterrence and denunciation.”

A date for a decision on the appeal will be scheduled on July 29.

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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