I’m generally hesitant to write a column critical of our courts – for the same reason I refuse to play armchair manager while watching a Major League Baseball game.
It irritates me to no end when casual fans of a team – people who watch only a handful of games on TV throughout the season – slam the choices its manager makes during the course of nine innings.
These people will have you believe that they would make better decisions – yes, that they know more about the team and about baseball in general because they played a few years of beer league softball – than the manager who has been in professional baseball for perhaps decades and who spends more time with his team and players than he does with his own family.
(The only exception to this of course is Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash’s mindboggling decision to yank starter Blake Snell early in Game 6 of the World Series. I think we can all agree that was downright dumb).
The same goes for our courts.
It feels arrogant of me to sit here at my keyboard and criticize our judges, justices and Crown Counsel – extremely educated and dedicated people who have forgotten more about criminal law than I will ever know. I don’t have their years of education. I don’t have their decades of experience. And I certainly don’t have their big salaries.
But what I do have is ink. Lots of ink.
In our newspaper and on this website, we have published hundreds of stories over the years that have the same, exhausting narrative.
Cops catch bad guy, bad guy gets off easy.
Take Daon Gordon Glasgow, who was on mandatory release from prison on a Surrey manslaughter conviction when he shot a 27-year-old transit officer twice in Surrey. You may not have a law degree, but what do you think an appropriate verdict might be when someone with a history like Glasgow’s shoots a transit officer twice?
Attempted murder, you say?
That sounds about right to me. But not to our justice system, which felt a lesser conviction of aggravated assault would be just fine.
“It is very difficult to imagine how someone can point a gun at a police officer, or anyone for that matter, pull the trigger – in this case actually shoot the police officer two times – and not be found guilty, convicted of attempted murder,” Sergeant Clint Hampton, a spokesman for the Transit Police, told the Now-Leader’s Tom Zytaruk. “I think we all need to be a little riled up by this, not just those members in our department.”
Riled up? To say the least.
Now let’s talk about Kyler Bryan David Williams, 29, who used a social media app called “Whisper” to connect with two underage girls, one of whom he impregnated, and both of whom he considered his slaves.
Williams was sentenced to six and a half years, less 18 months credit for time served. The appeal court in 2019 reduced his sentence to four years, which, with pre-trial credit, was effectively two and a half years in prison. It also varied one of his prohibitions and reduced three others.
“He has not done well in custody,” the appeal court justice noted in his reasons for judgment after the appeal court reduced his prohibitions from 20 years to 10 years. “He has been punched in the face, bullied and harassed by other inmates, eventually asking to be moved to a different unit because of personal safety concerns.”
Poor, poor Kyler.
Finally, there’s high-risk offender Kristjon Otto Olson.
Olson was living in Surrey (as they all seem to do) after being released from prison. Big surprise – he’s back in custody facing multiple child pornography and breach-related charges.
I could fill the rest of this newspaper with more examples. These are just a few of the most recent.
Look, we can talk about policing models until we’re blue in the face but it won’t change one thing.
Until our courts stop coddling criminals and/or our MPs start making tougher laws to keep these guys where they belong, it doesn’t matter what colour of uniform brings the bad guys in.
You don’t need a fancy certificate hanging on your office wall to figure that one out.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org