Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

You wonder why judges claim their hands are tied

  • Print

Here's a perfect example of why judges are often so limited in their ability to hand down significant sentences.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled Monday that a lower court judge was WRONG to sentence a former first nation chief to jail for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

As a result, Oliver Bird will be allowed to sleep in his house, not a prison cell as his two-year custody sentence was converted to a conditional penalty.

Bird, now 65, pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sent to the "big house" despite a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers that he be allowed to remain in the community.

Queen's Bench Justice Colleen Suche wasn't impressed and jumped the proposed sentence.

Now it's Manitoba's highest court that's not impressed. They ruled Suche had no grounds to ignore the proposed conditional sentence and overturned her decision.

So much for trying to make a difference.

Bird's crime dates back more than two decades and occurred while he was chief of Little Black River First Nation. The teen victim was living in foster care in Winnipeg when Bird visited her home and had forced sexual intercourse with her.

I can't think of a much more substantial breach of trust than that.

Bird claims he has no memory of the attack but says he pleaded guilty because his lawyer urged him to. Even though the move spared the victim from testifying, Suche said Bird showed "no meaningful acceptance of responsibility for the assault."

Unfortunately, Suche's attempts to mete out some real justice have snuffed out. And that's a shame.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

Twitter

Ads by Google