Sentencing a test of firearms law

PAUL CHERRY (The Gazette) | April 29, 2011

The case of a reputed street gang member who fired a weapon in broad daylight on a busy street during a heated argument might serve as a litmus test for how mandatoryminimum sentences involving firearms are supposed to be applied.

The case at the Montreal courthouse involves Philistin (Crazy) Paul, a 32-year-old member of a street gang, part of an alliance called the Reds.

In March, Quebec Court Judge Jean-Paul Braun acquitted Paul on a charge alleging he attempted to murder Beauvoir Jean, a former street gang leader who is now a social worker, while they argued outside a strip mall on Pascal St. in Montreal North on June 4, 2010.

But Braun found enough evidence to convict Paul of discharging a firearm with intent to injure someone – whether or not that person is the one at whom the firearm is discharged.

The offence carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence, part of changes made to the Criminal Code in 2008 to toughen sentences for crimes involving firearms.

On Thursday, Braun advised prosecutor Martin Joly and two of Paul’s lawyers of the specifics of the conviction, which confirmed the minimum five-year sentence.

Both sides agreed with Braun’s findings. But they disagreed on what Braun, who will render his sentence on June 7, should do next.

“We are not talking about a good father of a family walking out of his house and firing a gun into a nearby house. That man would also automatically be sentenced to five years,” Joly said.

Joly argued Braun should add more to the minimum sentence for a variety of reasons, including that several people were standing nearby on Pascal St. when Paul fired the .22-calibre Ruger revolver.

Defence lawyer Alexandre Goyette countered the federal government already factored in the dangerous nature of Paul’s crime when it amended the Criminal Code in 2008 and imposed the minimum sentence.

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