Ontario’s highest court has split over the question of whether a judge is obliged to view highly disturbing evidence before sentencing an offender.
The 2-1 split in favour of allowing a judge to avoid a full viewing of the evidence sets up the distinct possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The evidence in the case took the form of explicit videotape of a man sexually assaulting his daughter while she begged him to stop.
Ontario Court Judge Stephen J. Hunter declined to watch a compilation of several videos taken by the defendant. He said that he could well imagine what the tape depicted, given his 20 years on the bench and 15 years as a lawyer for a children’s aid society in Eastern Ontario.
“I have seen and been exposed to significant examples of the type of behaviour here,” Judge Hunter said.