FASD & the Justice System

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Superior Court

R. v. George [1998] B.C.J. No. 1505

FACTS: Application for appeal by George from an indeterminate prison sentence as well as the courts determination that he was a dangerous offender. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He beat an elderly man in the face with a large rock. George was Aboriginal and likely suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He also has below average intelligence. He was under the influence of drugs at the time of the offence. George had a lengthy prior record consisting of mostly breaking and entering, but it also included a charge of assault and threatening death.

HELD: Appeal allowed. George did not have an established pattern of violence and aggressive behaviour. In accordance to the Criminal Code s. 753, the standard for the determination of a dangerous offender label was not met. George's childhood behaviours were considered violent, but the judge erred in this consideration. His Aboriginal background should have been considered when examining his childhood and current criminality. A dangerous offender determination also requires the accused lack remorse for their actions. The judge erred in his interpretation of George's indifference. George pleaded guilty, confessed, and showed remorse toward the victim's family. The dangerous offender determination was not substantiated and a new sentencing hearing was ordered.