‘Scandalous’ delays put off sex offender’s sentencing

A report ordered in May for the 1,000-day-old case likely won’t come until October

A Penticton defence lawyer excoriated a lack of funding for forensic psychiatric assessments, with “scandalous” delays in receiving a cognitive assessment for a local sex offender. File photo

A Penticton defence lawyer excoriated a “scandalous” delay for a cognitive assessment at what was intended to be a sentencing hearing for sex assault charges Wednesday morning.

Rick Allen, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault in January in Penticton’s courthouse, but he’s still yet to receive sentencing, which was scheduled for Wednesday.

Allen had sex with an 11-year-old girl he met on Plenty of Fish, who claimed to be an 18-year-old single mother.

In a January court date, Crown counsel Nashina Devji argued there was a judgement call that Allen failed to make when he realized the girl was likely underage after meeting her in person.

However, Allen’s lawyer James Pennington argued the failed judgement call was a result of his struggles with ADHD and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which was the purpose for a cognitive assessment ordered in May.

Read more: Sentencing delayed for Penticton sex offender (Disturbing content)

When called forward Wednesday morning, Pennington told the court Allen wasn’t in a financial position to make it to Penticton for the hearing, adding he was also concerned about an October date for receiving a psychiatric evaluation.

“I am not prepared to wait until Oct. 31,” Judge Meg Shaw said.

“I don’t want to wait until October, either,” Pennington responded. “But I think it’s grossly unfair to the accused to get penalized just because the government can’t see fit to adequately fund the forensic psychiatric tests.”

Part of the delay occurred in June, when the forensics department conducting the assessment was told an October report would be too late for sentencing and the assessment was withdrawn from the queue.

With the case over 1,000 days old at this point, Shaw wasn’t interested in putting off sentencing any longer, pointing to the Jordan ruling, which limits provincial court matters to 18 months from charges laid to trial.

“Do you need to hear me say on the record that I waive Jordan and kiss Jordan goodbye?” Pennington asked.

Pennington told Shaw he would likely have instructions from Allen to waive any Jordan application “if I could get him to understand what Jordan’s about.”

But Devji argued the Jordan ruling doesn’t address any time delay following a guilty plea, something that has recently been upheld in the Alberta Court of Appeal.

“In this particular case, my friend is waiving the delay, I’m going to take the position that the plea was entered within Jordan territory, and while the sentencing has been significantly delayed, this is not a Jordan issue,” she said.

Still, Pennington took issue with a lengthy wait for a cognitive assessment, which was initially ordered in May.

“It’s scandalous,” Pennington said. “It’s not because the forensics has decided to take the summer off. They’re overworked as it is. And it’s not the fault of the court or the Crown or Mr. Allen.”

The Crown is seeking nine to 12 months of jail time for the offence, while Pennington is seeking 90 days with an 18-month probation. But Pennington said the results of the cognitive assessment could make the difference between a few months and a few years in jail.

Shaw was in agreement with that assessment, ordering Devji to put in another order for the cognitive assessment, and to put pressure on the forensics department.

“I would like forensics to know that this particular request is not done lightly,” Shaw said. “I’m asking that priority be put on this.”

Just Posted

Two types of civic engagement in PIB

Some voted in the byelection, others protested the polls, as Penticton Indian Band fissures continue

Penticton Vees look to carry offensive punch to Trail

Penticton Vees scored 28 goals in three games

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Penticton man fights to stay in Canada, keep life-saving health care

If Kris Reyes is denied permanent residency, the cost of his dialysis would run too high to keep up

Electrical box sparks fire in industrial zone

Penticton Fire Department responded to the electrical fire at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

BC Transit buses to get safety door for drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Most Read