A suspended sentence for a Kelowna man who pleaded guilty to threatening to shoot his wife has been upheld.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has confirmed the sentence, rejecting Sean William Begley’s request for a conditional discharge.
“In my view, the disposition represents a proper exercise of the trial judge’s discretion and is supported by the record that was before him,” Justice John J.L. Hunter wrote in a judgment.
With a suspended sentence, offenders avoid jail time if they agree to stipulations set by the trial judge. They do receive a criminal record, however.
On appeal, Begley argued for a conditional discharge, which would have left him without a criminal record.
The matter stemmed from an argument at a Kelowna home in 2015, when Begley threatened to shoot his wife. The woman reported the incident to police two years later, when the marriage was ending.
Police went to the home and found two rifles, with readily accessible ammunition in the den, and a handgun under the master bedroom, with a loaded magazine beside it. The couple had three young children.
At trial, Begley pleaded guilty to uttering threats and the improper and careless storage of firearms.
An issue for the appeal court was the trial judge’s comment, during sentencing, that “violence against women is not being curbed.” Begley argued the judge was wrong to have made such an observation without presenting evidence, and to use it as part of the justification for a suspended sentence.
But the appeal court ruled it was not necessary for the trial judge to produce such evidence. The judge’s comment should be taken only as a reference to the frequency of domestic violence cases in court, the appeal court ruled.
In this case, a suspended sentence carrying a criminal record, rather than a conditional discharge, best reflects society’s interest in deterring and denouncing domestic abuse, the appeal court ruled.