Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Crown counsel will not appeal the sentence in the case of a former Burns Lake mayor who admitted to sexually assaulting boys under the age of 16.

In December, Luke Strimbold was sentenced to two years minus a day after pleading guilty to two counts of sex assault, and one count each of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching, stemming from incidents between 2009 and 2017. He was initially charged with 29 counts.

An online petition, launched by a Prince George man, asked the B.C. government to appeal what he called a “light” sentence. The petition had 2,700 names as of Friday morning.

But the case doesn’t fit the province’s policy involving unfit sentences, said Dan McLaughlin, B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson, in an email to Black Press Media.

“The policy notes that, generally, a sentence will only be considered unfit if it is clearly below the acceptable range of sentence and not merely at the low end of the acceptable range,” McLaughlin said.

During the hearing, Crown prosecutor Richard Peck had argued for a four- to six-year sentence, pointing to the importance of denunciation and deterrence in cases where children are involved.

He acknowledged Strimbold’s early guilty plea and lack of criminal record, but said the minimum for each count should be 12 to 18 months based on case law.

READ MORE: Former Burns Lake mayor pleads guilty to four sex assault charges

Defence counsel Stanley Tessmer argued that at the time of the offences, Strimbold did not recognize that what he was doing was wrong because of his own history of sexual abuse, repressed homosexuality and addiction to alcohol.

He said his client had since undergone extensive counselling. A psychological report said the former mayor was a low risk to reoffend.

Strimbold himself gave a tearful apology at the sentencing hearing, saying he will “forever be regretful” for his actions.

“In this case, Mr. Peck concluded that while the sentence was low, he was unable to find that it was unfit, particularly given the judge’s emphasis on the mitigating circumstances, the offender’s prospects for rehabilitation, and the broad deference shown to sentencing judges by appellate courts,” McLaughlin said in the email.

Strimbold also received two years’ probation and a ban from working with young people for five years. He will also be placed on the sex offender registry.

– with files from Thom Barker with Smithers Interior News


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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