The sentencing hearing for a former children’s hockey and baseball coach who was found guilty of taking photos of young boys in sports-facility dressings rooms in Surrey and Coquitlam – including at South Surrey Arena – got underway this morning (Jan. 10) in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Despite a suggestion that the proceedings for Randy William Downes might be delayed – due to concerns with certain information being considered, some of which was subject to a publication ban – Justice Heather MacNaughton made it clear that option was not on the table.
“This matter has already gone on for too long,” she said.
Defence counsel Glen Orris agreed, “strenuously” objecting to any adjournment on behalf of Downes and his mother – who was in the courtroom for the proceedings – citing “the public fallout” that Downes has been dealing with since charges of voyeurism were made public.
“To delay this further would be, in my submission, unconscionable,” Orris said.
Downes, who was 59 at the time of his arrest, was convicted last June of two counts of voyeurism in connection with taking the photos, which occurred in June 2013 and August 2015.
In rendering her verdict, MacNaughton cited the position of trust that coaches have over their young charges.
“Parents entrust their children to coaches, adults in authority, to enhance their sporting skills,” she said.
“They are entitled to expect that coaches will respect the boundaries that are inherent in those relationships.”
There is also a publication ban on information that could identify the complainants and certain witnesses.
During the trial, prosecutors relied on 38 photos of two young boys, out of thousands found on electronic devices seized from Downes’ home by RCMP acting on a search warrant.
The judge noted none of the photos were pornographic. They were, however, taken “in a place where (the children) could reasonably have been expected to be nude,” according to the voyeurism charges.
One of the two boys was 13 when he played hockey on a team Downes coached, and the other was 12 and played hockey and baseball on teams Downes coached, the court heard. Both are now adults, and testified that they were not aware that the photos had been taken.
“In many of the photographs,” the judge noted, “Mr. Downes focused on the boys’ underpants and their bare torsos,” and they were not accidentally taken.
In addition to South Surrey Arena, photos were taken at the Surrey Sports and Leisure Complex and Planet Ice in Coquitlam.
The maximum penalty for voyeurism is five years in prison.
In court Friday, prosecutor Gail Barnes, noting Downes has already spent a net of 200 days in custody – 300, when enhanced credit is applied – submitted a one-day sentence would be appropriate, as well as three years probation and other conditions.
Orris contended the case “does not call for a custodial term.” He suggested a suspended sentence – or even a conditional discharge – and no more than a year’s probation.
MacNaughton said she expects to reserve her decision.
More to come…
– with files from Tom Zytaruk