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Friday 4 April 2008

Canada: Carl Leone sentenced to 18 years in prison (update 2)

Carl Leone was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday, the longest-ever sentence in a criminal HIV transmission case in Canada.

Update: Later news stories, such as the one in the Vancouver Sun, report that Leone was given 15 consecutive sentences, totalling 49 years in prison: five years each for the five women who were HIV-positive and two- and three-year sentences for the ten other women who were 'exposed' but did not become HIV-positive.

But Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn had ruled that sentencing guidelines required that he not impose an unduly harsh sentence that would violate the 'totality principal,' and prison term was adjusted downward to 18 years.

An editorial in Leone's local paper, the Windsor Star, is, of course, highly critical of Justice Quinn.

The bottom line? Leone emerges from this dismal exercise a clear winner. Instead of being declared a dangerous or long-term offender and facing an unknown but lengthy time in prison, as the Crown was seeking, he's been handed a modest sentence that will likely be served in some low-risk institution, perhaps even in a coveted prison resort like Beaver Creek in Muskoka.

The previous longest sentence was 15 years given to Adrien Nduwayo of British Columbia in 2006, for five counts of aggravated sexual assault, one of attempted aggravated sexual assault, and one of sexual assault.

Leone's sentence could have been worse - had he been deemed a 'dangerous offender,' he could have been imprisoned indefinitely – and a 30 years sentence would not have been unexpected. He will be eligible for parole in six years.

He had previously pleaded guilty to 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault.

He will not be appealing.

Friday's story from the Canadian Press below.

Man who knowingly spread HIV gets 18 years
April 4, 2008

WINDSOR, Ont. - A man convicted of knowingly spreading the virus that causes AIDS was handed an 18-year prison sentence Friday after a judge declined to declare him a dangerous offender.

Carl Leone pleaded guilty last year to 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault after failing to inform his sexual partners of his HIV status. Five of the 15 women are now HIV-positive.

On Friday, Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn handed Leone 15 consecutive sentences totalling 49 years - a number Quinn reduced to 18 years to better reflect sentencing guidelines laid out in the Criminal Code.

In passing sentence, Quinn said Leone committed a "despicable and selfish crime for five to 10 minutes of sexual gratification."

Leone, 32, will have to surrender a DNA sample, and his name will be added to Ontario's sex offender registry.

He will be eligible for parole in six years.

Defence lawyer Andrew Bradie, who noted he hadn't spoken with his client, said outside court the sentence was fair and that he would not appeal.

Leone's mother left the courthouse with tears in her eyes, accompanied by Leone's father and sister. The family did not comment.

Quinn told the court that Leone's age, his lack of a criminal record and the fact he pleaded guilty to spare his victims the trauma of testifying were factors in his sentence.

At his dangerous offender hearing in February, Leone expressed remorse and said he hopes he can be forgiven and one day return to the community.

A dangerous offender designation would have jailed Leone indefinitely.

Leone, who helped run his wealthy parents' music store, was told in 1997 by Windsor Essex County Health Unit workers that he was HIV-positive - seven years before his arrest on June 6, 2004.

Court has heard that Leone lived in a "sex-drenched, drug-drenched environment" that included frequenting strip clubs and having casual sex.

Tuesday's story in the Vancouver Sun below.

HIV-positive man gets 49 years in prison
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, April 08, 2008

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A man convicted of knowingly spreading the virus that causes AIDS has been sentenced to 15 consecutive sentences, totalling 49 years in prison.

However, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn dismissed a Crown application to label sex offender Carl Leone, 32, a dangerous or long-term offender, saying the man who infected unwitting partners with HIV does not represent a substantial risk to reoffend.

Quinn sentenced Leone to five years in jail for each victim infected with HIV and, for those not infected, Quinn gave Leone two- and three-year sentences, depending on the aggravating circumstances.

One of Quinn's objectives in sentencing was deterrence. "The spread of HIV in the community must be stopped," he said. The judge also called Leone's behaviour "despicable" and said he was selfish for not wearing a condom and not disclosing his HIV status.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

Editorial from the Windsor Star below.

A twisted message
Gord Henderson

It proved too good to be true. But when word came from the courthouse that HIV assailant Carl Leone had been sentenced to 49 years in prison, I found myself marvelling, between high-fives, that our justice system had at last found its spine.

I should have known better. I should have remembered that serious punishment for serious crimes is an outmoded concept, long banished from our squeamish courts as primitive, vengeful and lacking rehabilitative value.

Within minutes of the Leone sentencing, this new-found faith in our system dissolved. That total sentence of 49 years on 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault? All smoke and mirrors. Just a paper transaction.

The "real" sentence, taking into account some legal gobbledygook called the "totality principle" which prevents judges from imposing unduly harsh sentences (as if that were an issue in Canada), is a relatively benign 18 years.

But even that 18 years is all sizzle and no steak. It amounts to misleading advertising because, as everyone in the crime game knows, the big eye-catching number is strictly for (gullible) public consumption.

The Star's page-one headline Saturday pretty much gave it away: "'Despicable' crimes cost Leone 18 years; Up for parole in six." Truth is, those sickening, life-shattering assaults on those vulnerable young women won't cost Leone anything like 18 years.

I'm betting he'll be back on the street and enjoying the sweet life six years from now, while he's still in his debonair, man-about-town 30s.

Leone will be the type of candidate for early release the National Parole Board drools over. Even his victims described him as clean-cut, funny, popular, generous to a fault and the kind of guy a girl could confidently take home to mom. Considering that he snowed his victims before brutally violating them, imagine how easily he'll snooker parole board appointees. He'll be the poster child for early release.


In all likelihood, you'll see Leone swanning around Kingston, maybe even Windsor, on "conditional releases" long before those six years are up. According to the Solicitor General's office, temporary absences can be granted for medical, administrative, community service, family contact and personal development reasons relating to rehabilitation. Escorted temporary absences may be granted at any time and unescorted temporary absences can be issued after one-sixth of a sentence has been served, in Leone's case three years.

There's also day parole, generally issued six months before full parole eligibility, and work release, which allows offenders to engage in paid or voluntary work in the community under supervision.

In other words, there's an entire shopping cart loaded with justifications for being outside the institution and enjoying normal life instead of cooped up behind bars and "paying" for one's crimes as the public expects.

The bottom line? Leone emerges from this dismal exercise a clear winner. Instead of being declared a dangerous or long-term offender and facing an unknown but lengthy time in prison, as the Crown was seeking, he's been handed a modest sentence that will likely be served in some low-risk institution, perhaps even in a coveted prison resort like Beaver Creek in Muskoka.

The Windsor Star's Mike Graston summed it up perfectly Monday with that devastating cartoon contrasting Leone's six-year sentence with the life terms facing his victims.

Their lives, in many cases, have been ruined. Some face death sentences. And the perpetrator, the devious coward who violated their trust in the most depraved manner imaginable? He gets a relative walk in the park and, if he's as smart as Karla Homolka, free higher education, courtesy of Canadian taxpayers.

"I hope it sends a message," said Dr. Allen Heimann, medical officer of health, following the sentencing. No offence, doctor. But the message it sends me is that a seemingly clean-cut, upper-middle-class guy with a top-notch lawyer needn't worry about having the book thrown at him. The secondary message: young women better be on full alert when it comes to sleazy predators like Leone because they can't count on the courts for protection.

One of the creepiest aspects of this case was Leone's statement that he would like to "share my powerful, personal story" and lecture youngsters on his "sickening and criminal action." Share? Was he kidding? This guy shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a nightclub, let alone a high school auditorium, when he completes his all-too-soft sentence.

© The Windsor Star 2008



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