Sentence Appeal Confirmed for David and Collet Stephan

By Patrick Burles - @PatrickBurles on Twitter // Sam Borsato - @BorsatoSam on Twitter // With files from Alberta Justice
July 7, 2016 - 4:07pm

LETHBRIDGE - The Crown confirmed on Thursday that they are appealing the sentences for David and Collet Stephan. The Notices of Appeal were filed at the Court of Appeal in Calgary.

Collet was given a three month Conditional Sentence Order (house arrest), and David was handed a four month jail sentence. Both also received two years of probation.

The sentences are being appealed on these grounds:

- The sentence is not proportionate to the gravity of the offence or to the degree of responsibility of the offender, and is unfit.
- The Sentencing Judge gave insufficient weight to denunciation and deterrence.
- The Sentencing Judge underemphasized, or failed to give weight to, relevant aggravating factors.
- The Sentencing Judge overemphasized mitigating factors, or gave mitigative weight to factors that are not mitigating.
- The Sentencing Judge misinterpreted the legal doctrine of wilful blindness.
- Such further grounds as counsel may advise.

It follows their April conviction of failing to provide the necessaries of life, in connection with the 2012 death of their 18-month old son Ezekiel.

In delivering his decision, Justice Rodney Jerke called the Crown's request for three to 4.5 years in prison far too high, and the defence suggestion of a conditional discharge too low.

It became clear through the process that David would receive a stronger sentence, as Jerke discussed the difference in remorse between the two. He specifically talked about an interview David did, in which he called the case a parental rights issue. Jerke said David was "More focused on the consequences to himself" than on accepting responsibility for his failure to get medical help for his son. He called it "A complete lack of remorse", adding that Collet was blinded to the fact that Ezekiel needed medical help, but that David was willfully blind.

After delivering the sentences, Jerke outlined the conditions of Collet's CSO, during which time she must remain in her home 24-hours a day, seven days a week. She will only be allowed to leave for medical, dental or counselling appointments, to buy groceries, to vote and to attend religious services. She must also post the sentencing decision on the Facebook page 'Prayers for Ezekiel' and any other social media sites that she is affiliated with.

As part of their probation, both David and Collet must complete 240 hours of community service by 2018. Jerke also issued a requirement that they take their three children to a public health nurse every three months.

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