FASD & the Justice System
R. v. McNeely, [2006] N.W.T.J. No. 75; 2006 NWTSC 63

FACTS: Dean Allen McNeely enters pleas of guilty to a charge of robbery and a related charge of obstructing justice. The pre-sentence report indicates that Mr. McNeely has come from a background of family and alcohol problems. A 2001 assessment of Mr. McNeely indicated that medical assessments exploring fetal alcohol effects and any long-term disorders need to be conducted. The assessment completed in 2001 determined him to be functioning at a grade 2 level when he was about 14 years old.

The judge concluded from the pre-sentence report that being Aboriginal is not necessarily what brought him before the court: "It seems to me that it is his unsettled background and his level of intelligence or functioning that brings him here today. So I do not think that the fact that he is aboriginal should play a real factor in sentencing him for these offences."

The judge considered McNeely's pre-sentence interview report "so unbelievably, to use the very basic word, stupid that it -- if anything, it lends credence to the fact that Mr. McNeely is not functioning at a very high level."

HELD: On the charge of robbery, McNeely was sentenced to one year in jail; on the charge of obstruction of justice, he was sentenced to one year, consecutive; and on both charges, an imposition of a term of 2 years probation to follow the two-year sentence.

"General deterrence and also denunciation are obviously important factors in deciding what sentences to impose in this case. Mr. McNeely is still fairly young, and in light of his own personal difficulties, his rehabilitation still has to be a factor. But I have to say, it is difficult for me to know how best to encourage that rehabilitation given all the difficulties that are outlined in the pre-sentence report and it seems his constant conflict with people that he comes into contact with, his constant not following through on such things as education programs." The judge concluded that an extended period of supervision would best serve to balance these objectives.

CanLII link: http://www.canlii.org/en/nt/ntsc/doc/2006/2006nwtsc63/2006nwtsc63.html