Sex offender’s appeal of own guilty pleas denied

An appeal court dismissed an attempt to toss out earlier guilty pleas by a convicted offender.

A man convicted of committing sex crimes against children in Langley and other B.C. communities lost a bid to have a pair of guilty pleas rescinded this month.

The convicted man, identified in court records as G.F. to protect the identity of his victims, was found guilty in 2016 on four charges, including sexual interference, sexual exploitation, distribution of child pornography, and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

The incidents took place between 1997 and 2008 against two victims, in cities across British Columbia, including Langley, 100 Mile House, Burnaby, Lillooet, Lytton, North Vancouver, Pemberton, Squamish, Surrey, and Vancouver.

Before the start of a 2014 trial, G.F. entered guilty pleas on the charges of sexual interference and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

But four days before he was to be sentenced, G.F. fired his lawyer and applied to have his guilty pleas struck down, claiming he was too hard of hearing to understand his own lawyer or the significance of the pleas.

G.F.’s own former lawyer filed evidence showing he had given G.F. written instructions on what the guilty plea meant and the specifics of the charges.

A judge threw out the application to rescind the guilty pleas, and G.F. went to trial on all charges in 2016, eventually being found guilty on four counts and sentenced to nine years and 11 months behind bars, after credit for time spent in prison before sentencing was applied.

G.F.’s appeal claimed the original judge made a mistake by not dismissing the early guilty pleas. He also claimed that he couldn’t be convicted of “distributing” child pornography if he only sent it to one person, and that there should be a “private use exception” in that case.

The transmitted child pornography consisted of images sent by G.F. to one of his victims.

In his decision, Justice John Hunter said it was immaterial to the case whether the word “distribute” or “transmit” were used for that particular charge. There could be no private use exemption for images showing illegal sexual activity, Hunter noted.

“It was not in dispute that G.F. had sent the pornographic photos to [the victim],” Hunter wrote.

On the matter of throwing out the guilty pleas, the appeal court judges found that the original judge had carefully weighed the evidence and made no mistakes in her original ruling.

The three-member court of appeal panel unanimously dismissed the appeal, and G.F. will continue serving his sentence.

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