A Surrey man sentenced to 10 years in prison for a pre-Christmas carjacking crime spree in 2014 has lost an appeal to have his “heavy handed” sentence reduced by two years.
Edward Joseph Biwer, 26, was sentenced in Surrey provincial court on March 23, 2017 in connection with a series of crimes two days before Christmas in which he carjacked a pickup truck with a pregnant woman inside then stole an SUV with a seven-week old baby girl in the back seat.
Judge Donald Gardner found him guilty of two counts of robbery, assault causing bodily harm, attempted robbery, using a fake gun during an attempted robbery, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and possessing a stolen vehicle.
Gardner noted at sentencing that Biwer dumped a Nissan Maxima that was stolen from a home in the 10600-block of 140th Street on Dec. 22, 2014. The next day, shortly after noon, he dumped the car at a Husky gas station at 18398 Fraser Highway. Two blocks away from the gas station he tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to rob a 43-year-old pre-school teacher of her keys and purse as she was getting into her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. He pointed what appeared to be a black handgun at her. She resisted, yelled, and Biwer ran across the highway to Shoppers Drug Mart, where a woman who was 22 weeks pregnant had been waiting in the passenger seat of her Toyota pickup truck while her husband was picking up some medicine.
The engine was running. Biwer climbed into the driver’s seat and started driving away. The woman yelled repeatedly that she was pregnant but he ignored her and when she grabbed the steering wheel to try to stop him he punched her in the face. She fought back by pushing his head into the driver’s side window and punching him in the face. While this battle was going on, Biwer hit two parked cars and threw the woman’s little French bulldog out the window.
Biwer drove out of the parking lot, headed down Fraser Highway, lost control of the pickup at 68th Avenue, drove over a raised median, hit three more vehicles and rolled the truck. He landed on top of the pregnant woman, punched and kicked her in the face and stomach, and bailed out of the overturned Toyota, leaving his victim with multiple bruises, a fractured pelvis, neck strain and back pain.
As a couple stopped to help the pregnant woman, Biwer turned his attention to their Ford Escape, where their seven-week-old daughter was in the backseat. As the man was helping Biwer’s first victim, Biwer pushed his wife out of the way, got into the Ford and took off as the terrified woman screamed at him “My baby’s in the car, please let me take my daughter.”
Forty minutes later, Surrey Mounties found the Escape abandoned in an alley near 158th Street and 95A Avenue, along with the baby. The temperature had been only two degrees celsius. The baby suffered a mild concussion. Biwer was arrested at a crack house nearby.
Biwer cried after Gardner sentenced him to 10 years in prison. He had originally been charged with 18 crimes but was found guilty of seven.
Gardner agreed with Crown prosecutor Winston Sayson’s argument that Biwer should be sentenced to 10 years in jail and an eight year driving prohibition. Biwer’s defence lawyer had argued for a six-year-sentence and called the Crown’s position “heavy handed.”
Sayson noted at the time that Biwer demonstrated the “sincerity of his remorse” by calling the judge a “f—-ing goof” after the sentence was delivered.
Biwer’s appeal was heard in B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver on November 28 and Justice Pamela Kirkpatrick dismissed it on Nov. 30, with Justices John Savage and Gail Dickson concurring. Biwer’s counsel argued Gardner had engaged in a “piecemeal approach” to sentencing and wrongly discounted his expression of remorse by finding he expressed none when he committed his crimes.
Kirkpatrick disagreed in both cases.
The court heard Biwer is a member of the Ojibwe First Nation. Since he was 19, he’s been convicted of 27 crimes including 10 robberies, 10 thefts under $5,000 and two offences for assault with a weapon. He dropped out of school at age 14, was living on the streets and abusing crystal meth at age 16, and was shooting heroin and meth daily by age 18.
“It is of course inappropriate to simply engage in a mathematical reduction in sentence on account of an offender’s aboriginal background. To do so would ignore the nuanced and case-sensitive nature of the sentencing process,” Kirkpatrick noted. “The sentencing judge must evaluate the effect of the aboriginal offender’s background in fashioning the ultimate sentenced imposed. In this case, the judge did so and in the exercise of his discretion, concluded that Mr. Biwer’s aboriginal background justified a sentence of 10 years rather than the 11 years that might otherwise have been imposed.”