THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Gary Bruce Lamont faced a long list of charges. Charges which could have had the “Serial Rapist” as Justice Fregeau called him in court going away for a long time. Instead he received a sentence of five years, and will be credited with already serving 94 days in custody at ‘time and a half’.
When Crown Attorney Robert Kozak was asked to explain why twelve charges against Gary Bruce Lamont (Feb. 9-CrimeBeat) which had been investigated by Thunder Bay Police and Ontario Provincial Police, and laid by the Crown Attorney, were ultimately dropped as part of his plea agreement the Crown had no answer.
The Crown Attorney wasn’t about to discuss the inner workings of his office and the process used in the case, to arrive at the agreed upon sentence. But why not?
In the case of Gary Bruce Lamont we, the public, do not know why twelve very serious charges, which included Uttering Threats, Sexual Assault with a Weapon, and Forcible Confinement needed to be dropped, twelve serious counts. Because of the plea agreement process, even the Justice hearing the case did not receive an explanation why the Crown believed it necessary; Justice Fregeau still by law had to abide by the agreement.
I asked Crown Robert Kozak a question I knew he wouldn’t answer: Why were the 12 charges dropped and why the leniency, given that the sexual assaults could net up to ten years per count?
Crown Prosecutor Kozak explained to the presiding Justice that an important benefit of the plea agreement was that the victims were spared from testifying at trial. However these are the same witnesses who had been brave enough to come forward after being raped and threatened with death, testifying successfully at the Preliminary trial and prepared to testify at the trial set for November 30, 2015.
These were five victims who were raped repeatedly over an extended period of time.
Lamont admitted his guilt. The twelve charges, at least as serious as the five multiple-rapes were initially investigated and consequently the Crown Prosecutor felt that there was a good prospect of conviction; the charges a result of the same witnesses, credible enough to withstand the Preliminary Trial and prepared to testify at the scheduled trial.
So where was the pressure coming from that ‘required’ that the Prosecutor agree to drop twelve serious charges and settle on such a lenient sentence for the 14 years of rape?
Given that each sexual assault conviction could have netted Lamont 10 years-and with recently enacted laws regarding Consecutive Sentences replacing Concurrent Sentences, Lamont could have received 50 years. So why was there a need to make such a ‘sweetheart deal’? And why such a necessary deal need not necessarily be explained?
The two attorneys present their agreement to the judge-and unless there is some evident error in the agreement then the judge is obligated to accept the plea agreement and its’ sentence recommendation. He trusts them, and said as much.
But as taxpayers and citizens we should be allowed an explanation as to how things work, in any case we ask questions about. No need for an inquiry, just answer the question. Why? The plea agreement can’t be about saving money by avoiding a trial.
To Crown Attorney Kozak and the Crown Attorney’s Office: Answer the Question: “Why only five years?”