Despite a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, a Justice of the Peace handed down a six-month conditional sentence to a Vernon man accused of two counts of sexual interference with minors.
Dylan Scofield, 26, pleaded guilty in May 2015 to the charges that relate to two separate 2013 incidents where Scofield, then 22, was accused of sexual relations with persons under the age of 16.
Deemed mentally challenged and potentially suffering from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder, Scofield will serve his six-month conditional sentence in the community instead of in prison.
Justice Gary Weatherill said the girls in question, while they consented to the activity, were unable to do so legally under the Criminal Code of Canada.
“This is an important and difficult case. Mr. Scofield committed very serious offences. He had sexual relations with two 15-year-old girls … and in doing so, they were both damaged,” Weatherill said in January.
“One has had to go into therapy and has not been able to attend school. The pain and other effects of what Mr. Scofield did continue up to today and will probably go on for a long time.”
A psychologist said that Scofield has a low to moderate risk of reoffending without ongoing support and supervision and programs that improve his ability to cope and his social skills may reduce that risk. The psychologist said that his behaviour did not indicate a preference for underage females.
Weatherill ruled the mandatory minimum incarceration of one year unconstitutional.
“I held that due to the exceptional circumstances of this case, including that Mr. Scofield was a first-time offender who suffers from significant cognitive deficits, the fit and proper sentence should be a six-month conditional sentence,” Weatherill said.
The Crown sought a five-year prohibition order that would restrict Scofield from being within two kilometres of the victims’ residence, school or place of work. However, Weatherill said he is not persuaded that Scofield remains a danger to children, though Scofield is prohibited from using dating websites without appropriate adult supervision.
Scofield is also barred from communicating directly or indirectly with the victims.
“This sentence may not satisfy everyone but, as I explained in my reasons, the law requires my sentence to balance many factors not just satisfy one particular interest,” Weatherill said.
“Mr. Scofield, I hope you think long and hard about your actions and the harm you have caused to (the victims), their families, those closest to them, and the impacts on your community. Your decisions in life can have repercussions and reverberations that you may not feel but can profoundly affect others. I also remind you that a breach of your conditional sentence order will result in you spending the balance of your sentence behind bars.”