EDITORIAL: Crime and punishment

Barry Christiansen will not face jail time after hitting two joggers in a crosswalk nearly three years ago.

Nearly three years after he hit two joggers in a crosswalk on a dark December evening, Barry Christiansen learned this week that he will not face jail time.

The former Surrey resident was given a nine-month conditional sentence in Surrey Provincial Court Monday, meaning he will be confined to his home for a month, followed by two to six months with a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He was also given a one-year driving ban and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

The two women he hit say they have undergone an extremely difficult recovery process since the incident –something the presiding judge took into account in handing down his sentence.

Judge James Sutherland noted, too, Christiansen’s history of volunteering in the community, and his strong family support, prior to delivering the sentence.

But he also considered the media exposure and public shaming that Christiansen has been subject to since charges were laid against him one year after the incident, reiterating legal opinion that such scrutiny constitutes a form of punishment in and of itself, and acts as a deterrent for others.

When such an incident takes place in a community such as ours, media coverage is bound to be intense. In this case, public interest swelled when traffic-camera footage was released, showing Christiansen leaning over the victims in the crosswalk, then apparently leaving the scene.

But while the footage stoked anger in the community at large, the presumption of innocence was always to be upheld, as it should be in even the most heinous criminal cases that have yet to have their day in court.

If public scrutiny – and shaming of the man accused – served as a punishment before guilt was determined, would the accused then not be unfairly punished had he been found not-guilty?

It should be noted that Christiansen only pleaded guilty last week to charges of “failing to stop at an accident scene involving bodily harm,” after his trial, set for earlier this month, was cancelled just a few days before its scheduled start date.

In addition to their physical injuries, the long, drawn-out legal process has taken its toll on the victims, who told Peace Arch News at the start of the sentencing hearing last week that they didn’t understand why it took nearly three years for the case to be closed.

While it’s evident Christansen feels remorse – he was visibly emotional while addressing the court – had he pleaded guilty when he was first charged nearly two years ago, perhaps the public scrutiny and shaming he endured would have been reduced.

Just Posted

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

Surrey Libraries will host a series of free contests and programs for teenagers this summer. (Malin Jordan photo)
Surrey Libraries offering series of free summer programs for teens

Writing contests, virtual programs scheduled throughout summer

Emergency crews responded to a large truck fire under the Alex Fraser Bridge around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Christine Tobias/Twitter photo)
Dog dies in truck fire under Alex Fraser Bridge

No people were injured in blaze that consumed two semi-trucks around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

Most Read