R. V. SIMMS, 2020 NSSC 239

The court discounted the offense of two offenders and accepted their guilty plea.

On July 11, 2017, two men namely Matthew Simms and Robert Moore intruded in a house concealing their identity with shotguns. They demanded money from the house of attack. On their way back, the plans were altered and they fled from the house barefoot. Soon, police located Mr. Matthew Simms at the neighbour’s house. On searching their house, police procured the DNA of Robert Moore, and subsequently, he was also caught.

Both men in the court pleaded guilty and were thereby charged for offence of breaking and dwelling into a house of attack [Sec 348(1) (b) of the Criminal Code], for committing an indictable offense of forcible confinement while using a firearm and shotgun [section 85(1)(a) of the Criminal Code], for masking off their faces having an intent to commit an indictable offense [section 351 (2) of the Criminal Code]

Though both were accused pleaded guilty, the crown was rather surprised to see that both victims had not produced any victim impact statements even when they were given a chance to do so. The presentence report of Robert Moore suggested that he had a stable upbringing, good family support, and was a decent student who studied electrician course, and had dreams of a bright future. The reports also depict that Mr. Moore had mental health issues and he was also being treated for that.

Mathew’s Presentence Report also suggested a similar background with a decent upbringing apart from the fact that he had to leave his schooling in the middle due to insufficient finances. The counsel on Simmon’s side showed the court some pieces of evidence as to his defense while pleading poverty as one of the dominant reasons for involving in crimes like these.

Further, the court observed different factors which were mitigating in view of the nature of the crime and the nature of the accused persons. Since both the men entered for guilty pleas, none of them had any criminal record, both were a part of productive members contributing to society even after the offenses committed by them, both were noted to be sufferers of financial, personal, and employment setbacks that drifted them towards such crime but both had stable relationships with the society and Mr. Simms had to also invest money in medical treatment due to being shot at the crime scene, the Court of Appeal decided to give one more chance to the offenders as a ground for defense in “somewhat unusual circumstances”. They were said to not require any other exceptional circumstances.

Further, the court considered their guilty plea and allowed a reduction or discount of sentence for entering into the guilty plea. Since, both the offenders entered into a new life that was positive towards society and family building, the courts felt that the chances of doing other offenses or re-offense were comparatively less. For the above reasons, their sentences were put up towards a low end of sentences that stand in such a range of offenses.