Life sentence appeal by Halifax mall plotter rejected by Nova Scotia court

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top court has rejected the appeal of the life sentence given to an American woman who plotted a Valentine’s Day shooting spree at a Halifax mall in 2015.

In a written decision released today, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal says “there is nothing” to justify Lindsay Souvannarath’s appeal of her sentence of life with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Writing on behalf of a three-judge panel, Justice Ann Derrick says the sentencing judge was entitled to determine the gravity of the conspiracy around the plot and was required to decide what sentence would protect the public.

Derrick says the judge was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that had the plan not been interrupted, Souvannarath and co-conspirator James Gamble would have carried it out.

Souvannarath pleaded guilty in April 2017 about six months after Randall Shepherd — a Halifax man described in court as the “cheerleader” of the foiled plot — was sentenced to a decade in jail. The 19-year-old Gamble was found dead in his Halifax-area home a day before the planned attack.

Her lawyer, Peter Planetta, had argued the life sentence handed down would have been more appropriate for a terrorism case.

Planetta also argued during a hearing last month that Souvannarath’s sentence should be similar to that handed to Shepherd.

Crown lawyer Tim O’Leary told the court the sentence was appropriate, though it was on the top end of what’s recommended for the offence.

The origin of the conspiracy was traced back to December 2014, when Souvannarath and Gamble began an online relationship.

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