Jumping to address growing recognition of gun crime

Abdiaziz Omar had a loaded 357 Taurus revolver. The police found him in possession of it, contrary to section 95 of the Code. He was carrying it around in his SUV, “concealed in a compartment under the cup holder in the centre console”. He was charged. He pleaded guilty. The sentencing judge noted, inter alia, that Omar posed “an immediate danger to the public”. Omar was sentenced to 6 years in jail. He appealed: 2015 ONCA 207.

Omar argued that the trial judge erred in his application of the “jump principle” and consideration of rehabilitative prospects. In considering this submission, the court noted the following:  (i) Omar had previously been convicted of the same offence (and other offences) for which he received a sentence of 6 and ½ months in jail; (ii) this first penitentiary sentence; (iii) Omar sought a sentence of four to five years jail.

While there were rehabilitative prospects and the sentence was a significant increase, the Court of Appeal noted that the trial judge was alive to these issues, citing the following passage from the trial judge’s reasons:

[H]owever, I think in the circumstances it may not adequately reflect the accused’s prospects for rehabilitation, particularly in light of the support of his family and friends in the community. I must also be cognizant of the ‘jump principle’. I must also consider this is Mr. Omar’s first penitentiary sentence and I must avoid imposing a crushing sentence, but a sentence still that will adequately address the paramount concerns of denunciation and deterrence.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The trial judge made no error in principle and the sentence was fit. In conclusion the court noted that the range of fit sentences for this offence is “most significantly affected by growing judicial recognition of the reality of gun crime, as it should be” [@8].