An O’Chiese First Nation man has successfully appealed a six-month sentence handed down for multiple breaches of custody release conditions last year.
Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman heard the appeal on Monday morning and agreed to a 30-day sentence on each of three breach counts to be served concurrently. The Crown prosecutor consented to the appeal, which had been scheduled to be argued in court on Wednesday.
Strawberry pleaded guilty to the three breach charges last December.
At the time, defence lawyer Maurice Collard sought a 30-day sentence for all three breaches and the Crown prosecutor asked for a 90-day sentence.
However, Judge David Plosz handed Strawberry a six-month sentence.
“We believe the sentence was excessively high and unduly harsh, being six times what we thought was appropriate, and double the sentence sought by the Crown,” said Collard on Monday.
Collard said he and Strawberry, who appeared in court on Monday through closed-circuit video link with the Red Deer Remand Centre, believe the judge “put too much emphasis on the fact Mr. Strawberry was on release for murder, along with his criminal record.
“When I believe things are wrong I will appeal,” said Collard. “The justice system isn’t perfect, but when there are errors, appeals are available. In this case the appeal system has worked very well and we are very happy with the outcome.”
Strawberry was accused of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Joseph Gallant in Red Deer on March 29, 2019. Gallant was stabbed once in the chest with a large knife or machete. He died soon after in hospital from blood loss.
The trial before Justice Marilyn Slawinsky ended on March 22. She is expected to deliver her verdict on May 10.
“Mr. Strawberry and I believe that on May 10 he will be acquitted of homicide and as a result of this successful appeal he should be released without conditions on that date,” said Collard.