27 C.C.C. (3d) 142, 1986 CarswellBC 642
R. v. Belmas
Her Majesty The Queen Respondent v. Juliet Caroline Belmas Appellant
Her Majesty The Queen Respondent v. Ann Brit Hansen Appellant
Her Majesty The Queen Respondent v. Brent Taylor Appellant
British Columbia Court of Appeal
Judges: Honourable The Chief Justice of British Columbia, Honourable Mr Justice, Hinkson, Honourable Mr. Justice Macdonald
Judgment: March 19, 1986
Docket: Doc. CA 002396, CA 004377, CA 002717
Counsel: Juliet Caroline Belmas appearing in Person.
For the appellants Brent Taylor and Ann Brit Hansen: Clayton C. Ruby, Esq.
For the respondent: James W. Jardine, Esq., Q.C. and S Casey Hill, Esq.
Criminal Law — Sentencing Sentencing principles Rehabilitation.
Accused committing terrorist acts for alleged motive of concern for environment, poverty and threat of nuclear destruction Accused involved in bombings causing over $6 million damage and injuring 10 people Accused also convicted of related criminal acts Accused performing role of soldier and willing participant but not in control or leader of group's activities Accused aged 18 Accused expressing remorse for actions, renouncing path taken, abandoning former views and accepting democratic process for achieving reform Statements from warden and officer of prison indicating prospect of rehabilitation Accused's appeal of sentence of 20 years allowed Sentence reduced to 15 years Age of accused, statements by accused, prospect of rehabilitation and acceptance of democratic process considered in reducing sentence.
The appellants were members of a group committed to achieving political and environmental objectives by terrorist means. The offences arose out of the bombings of a B.C. Hydro substation and of an industrial plant in Ontario, which together caused $7.5 million in damages. The Ontario blast injured ten people. The appellants also carried out bombings of "Red Hot Video" retail outlets in British Columbia. Following each event, the group had issued a communiqu claiming responsibility. The appellants were arrested while planning the armed robbery of an armoured car. After a lengthy trial the appellant H. was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, of theft and of possession of stolen property. She pleaded guilty to five other offences including arson and activating explosives. She was sentenced to life imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and her sentences on the other charges ranged from one to twelve years, to be served concurrently. The appellant T., tried jointly with H., was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, breaking and entering and theft, possession of stolen property and auto theft. He pleaded guilty to possession of explosive substances and to possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose. His sentence, including 12 years on the conspiracy charge, totalled 22 years. The appellant B. pleaded guilty to all seven offences with which she was charged. She was sentenced to ten years for activating an explosive substance and ten years for conspiracy to commit robbery, to be served consecutively. Her sentences on the other charges, including theft, possession of stolen property and arson, ranged from one to four years, concurrent. The appellants argued that their sentences were excessive and in particular that the trial judge had not given sufficient weight to their good motives in committing the crimes. Held, appeal of H. and T. dismissed; B.'s sentence reduced from 20 years to 15. Because of the enormity of these crimes the trial judge was right in giving little, if any, weight to the motives for them. The protection of the public by deterring further actions such as these was of paramount importance. All three appellants came from good, middle class backgrounds. The appellant H. was university educated and was the committed ideological leader of the group. Prior to sentencing she had addressed the court and reaffirmed her commitment to violence and to the development of a resistance movement based on terrorist principles. The 28-year-old appellant T. had also attended university and he too had refused to renounce violent tactics. The appellant B., who appeared in person at her appeal, was 18 years old at the beginning of the events. Like the others she had initially participated in many non-violent political protests. She had been strongly influenced by H. Both at her sentencing and at her appeal, she had expressed remorse for her actions. In reducing her sentence, the court was influenced by her age, her remorse, and her stated acceptance of the democratic process for achieving reform, as well as by the prospects for her rehabilitation and by very favourable letters written on her behalf by prison officials.
Reasons for Judgment of The Honourable The Chief Justice of British Columbia for The Court:
1 On May 6, 1984, after a long trial, Ann Brit Hansen was convicted upon one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of theft over $200, and three counts of possession of stolen property over $200. On June 4, 1984 she pleaded guilty to five other offences. On June 7, 1984 she was sentenced by Mr. Justice Toy as follows:
1. Conspiracy to commit robbery - s.423 (1) (d) - sentence - life imprisonment
2. Three counts of automobile theft - s.294(a) - sentence - one year concurrent on each count
3. Three counts of possession of stolen property over $200 - s.312(1) (a) -
sentence - one year concurrent on each count
4. Activating an explosive substance (Litton) - s. 79(1) (a) - sentence - 12 years concurrent
5. Activating an explosive substance (Dunsmuir) - s. 79 (1) (a) - sentence - six years concurrent
6. Possession of explosives with intent to cause damage - s. 80 - sentence - four years concurrent
7. Possession of weapons for dangerous purpose - s. 85 - sentence - two years concurrent
8. Arson (Red Hot Video) - s. 389(1) - sentence - three years concurrent.
2 With respect to the Litton offence, Brent Taylor, upon conviction in Ontario under s. 79(1) (c), was sentenced by the judge to nine years. That is not appealed. But sentences imposed in this province for 10 offences are appealed. They appear in the following list. He was tried jointly with Hansen. On May 6, 1984 he was found guilty by a jury of the first seven offences. He then, on June 8, 1984, pleased guilty to offences 8, 9 and 10. All sentences were imposed June 26, 1984:
1. Breaking and entering and theft - s. 306(1)(b) - sentence - two years
2. Possession of stolen property (radios, mountaineering equipment, etc.) - s.312(1)(a) - sentence - one year consecutive
3. Possession of stolen property over $200 (truck) - s. 312(1)(a) - sentence - one year concurrent
4. Automobile theft - s. 294(a) - sentence - one year consecutive
5. Automobile theft - s. 294(a) - sentence - one year concurrent
6. Automobile theft - s. 294(a) - sentence - one year concurrent
7. Conspiracy to commit robbery - s.423(1)(d) - 12 years consecutive
8. Possession of explosive substances - s. 79(1)(d)(i) - sentence - four years consecutive
9. Possession of weapons for dangerous purpose - s. 85 - sentence - two years consecutive and five-year prohibition from possession of firearms
10. Possession of weapons for dangerous purpose - s. 85 - sentence - two years concurrent.
These sentences total 22 years.
3 Juliet Caroline Belmas was sentenced upon seven offences. On March 30, 1984 she pled guilty to an indictment with respect to the Litton explosion. She re-pleaded to an amended indictment May 10, 1984. On March 16, 1984 she pleaded guilty to six counts with respect to offences in this province. The seven sentences which are now listed were imposed May 18, 1984:
1. Activating explosive substance (Litton) - s. 79(1)(a) - sentence - 10 years
2. Conspiracy to commit robbery - s. 423(1)(d) - sentence - 10 years consecutive
3. Possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose - s. 85 - sentence - two years
concurrent and five years prohibition from possession of firearms
4. Theft over $200 (automobile) - s. 294(a) - sentence - one year concurrent
5. Possession of stolen property over $200 - s. 312(1)(a) - sentence - one year concurrent
6. Attempted arson (Red Hot Video) - s. 389(1) - sentence - two years concurrent
7. Possession of explosive substances - s. 79(1)(d)(i) - sentence - four years concurrent These sentences total 20 years.
4 We have decided to grant leave to appeal these sentences in order to consider the fitness of the sentences appealed against. We heard Miss Belmas in person last fall. We heard Miss Hansen and Mr. Taylor's appeal in February of this year.
5 We are not unaware of the fact that this is the first time that a Canadian appellate court has had to consider sentences imposed for serious crimes committed to achieve alleged political, sociological and ecological objectives.
6 Mr. Clayton Ruby of the Ontario Bar represented Miss Hansen and Mr. Taylor. It is to be noted that in Mr. Ruby's able submissions to this Court he frankly conceded that the crimes committed should be punished but that the sentences were excessive in the circumstances.
7 Before dealing with this submission we must first examine the crimes and their circumstances.
Break, Enter and Theft - McClure Residence
8 Early December 1981, the private residence of Drew McClure in Richmond, British Columbia was broken and entered and 12 weapons stolen together with magazines, grips, holsters and ammunition pouches relative to the weapons. The weapons taken were: a Dan Wesson 357 Magnum revolver and holster; a Smith and Wesson. 44 Magnum revolver; an M1A rifle; and M1 Carbine; a Luger P.08 pistol; a Colt 45 handgun; an Erme Werke pistol; a Ruger black powder revolver; a Thompson centre-fire pistol; and two 12-gauge Remington shotguns. Brent Taylor was a party to the break-in and theft and his fingerprints were found on detailed casing notes of the McClure residence. The gun collection was kept in the joint possession of Taylor, Hansen, Belmas, Stewart and Hannah from November 22, 1982 to January 21, 1983.
9 Taylor was in Toronto in April and May of 1982. During his stay he drew a diagram of the Litton's complex on City View Drive and took photographs of it. Two Atomic Energy of Canada buildings were similarly examined with photographs and diagrams made. The two buildings are within 10 miles of the Litton plant.
10 At approximately 1:04 a.m. on May 31, 1982 there was an explosion at the Dunsmuir Substation of British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority. The sound of the explosion was heard 30 miles away. There was great damage. Four shunt reactors weighing approximately 109 tons each were damaged extensively. There were burning. Two of the fires took eight to 10 days to burn out. The force of the explosion moved these reactors as much as six inches from their original positions on the concrete pads. A large mobile crane parked near one of the reactors was destroyed by the explosion and fire. There was extensive exterior damage to the brick wall of the control building located about 600 feet from the nearest reactor. The perimeter chain link fence around the site was extensively damaged by flying debris. Large fragments of steel were found strewn about the site. One piece weighing approximately 110 pounds was thrown some 600 feet by the explosions. The total damage was estimated at $3,781,816.00.
11 Investigation revealed that there had been five separate charges linked by detonation cord. Four charges of approximately 55 pounds each were placed under the four reactors and one charge, of approximately four pounds, was placed on top of a pump-cooler unit adjacent to a reactor.
12 A hole about five feet high and three feet wide had been cut in the wire perimeter fence. Footwear impressions in three different sizes and shapes were seen inside and outside the fence. They left a trail ending at a location on the public road. At that location were tire impressions indicating that a vehicle had turned around.
13 June 2, 1982 communiques from a group calling themselves "Direct Action" and claiming responsibility for the bombing of the Dunsmuir Substation were received by various news media outlets and environmental groups.
14 In December 1982 and January 1983 oral communications of Hansen were intercepted in which she discussed the casing of the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir 500 K.V. transmission line, the Texada Reactor Station and the Malispina Substation.
15 Related materials were found at Hansen's home, 1414 - 10th Avenue, New Westminster, January 20, 1983. There were many newspaper articles, papers, briefs, diagrams and information bulletins concerning various B.C. Hydro projects and opposition thereto including detailed information, maps and briefs relating to the proposed Cheekeye-Dunsmuir transmission line project and opposition to it. There was a file folder entitled "Cheekeye-Dunsmuir," a note and hand-drawn plan regarding Nile Creek dated "May 9, Sun" in Hansen's handwriting, together with other hand-drawn plans of Malispina, Texada and Cheekeye, the latter dated May 16th. There was also a scrapbook containing a copy of the communique and a collection of newspaper clippings from articles concerning the bombing which were published during the ensuing weeks. There was a list of addresses of the media and various environmental groups that corresponded in many instances with the addresses of recipients of the communique.
Break and Entry and Theft - Marmot Basin Ski Lifts, Jasper, Alberta
16 Overnight July 11 and 12, 1982 the workshop of Marmot Basin Ski Lifts at Jasper was broken and entered and a quantity of tools, radio equipment and mountaineering equipment stolen. The radio equipment consisted of a radio charging rack and seven sophisticated hand-held radios used by ski patrol and mobile vehicle radios. The tools consisted of the personal hand tools of the mechanics who worked on the radio equipment, motor vehicles and ski track vehicles of the resort. The total value of the property stolen was approximately $17,000.00.
17 Co-accused Hannah was employed at Marmot Basin Ski Lifts in 1981 for approximately three months and had access to the vehicle maintenance garage and a patrol hut while performing general labour and maintenance duties. Through the same period Belmas was employed by the highways department in Jasper and she was Hannah's girlfriend. The radio equipment and many of the tools were found at 1414 - 10th Avenue, New Westminster, the house which was rented by Taylor and Hansen and lived in by Taylor, Hansen, Belmas and Hannah from approximately December 1, 1982 to their arrest January 20, 1983.
18 Overnight July 15 and 16, 1982 a brown 1977 Chevrolet truck, with a 4 x 4 camper special, was stolen from the street in front of the owner's residence at 226 West 62nd Avenue in Vancouver. Taylor was a party to this theft.
19 There was police surveillance in December 1982 and January 1983. Hansen was observed driving this truck almost every day. She was driving it on the occasion of the arrest of the five persons on the Squamish Highway. She was observed driving it on many occasions when it was being used for the purposes of attending various shopping centres and was used as a surveillance post when conducting surveillance for the purposes of the proposed robbery which I will mention later. In preparation for her role as the proposed get-away driver from that robbery she was observed driving this truck over the proposed get-away route.
20 Taylor was only observed driving this truck on one occasion. But he was seen doing mechanical work on it on many occasions and he rode in it almost daily.
21 Belmas was observed driving the truck frequently. Whenever Belmas and Hannah were in the truck together, Belmas drove. She was the driver December 15, 1982 when the vehicle was stopped by police officers and she was identified. She drove the vehicle on many occasions when it was being used for the purposes of attending various shopping centres and used as a surveillance post when conducting surveillance for the purposes of a proposed robbery.
Explosives - Magazines
22 In the night of July 27 and 28, 1982 a British Columbia Department of Highways explosives magazine was entered and 38- 1/2 cases of dynamite stolen. The magazine was located about seven kilometres north of Squamish.
23 On September 13, 1982, in the bush area of Garibaldi, north of Squamish, a hunter came upon two large wood structures which were locked and camouflaged. Both were caulked and vented. One contained four reels of detonating cord and three boxes of electric blasting caps. The other contained approximately 28- 1/2 cases of dynamite and special gelatin, some full, some partially full, for a total of approximately 1,500 pounds of explosives.
24 A key to the padlock on one of these structures was found on the person of Taylor, with his personal keys, when he was arrested. Another key was found in the ignition of the truck at the time of the arrest in January 1983 when Hansen was driving the truck. A third key was found in a tool box in the basement of the residence 1414 - 10th Avenue in New Westminster. In addition, various samples of paint, caulking and wire screen, taken from the home-made magazines, matched materials found at the New Westminster address.
25 In December 1982 and January 1983, oral communications of Taylor were intercepted in which he discussed dynamite and possible uses of it.
Explosion - Litton Plant, Mississauga, Ontario
26 September 30, 1982 a G.M.C. van was stolen in Toronto. In its glove compartment was a broken folding pocket-knife which had to be opened in a particular way. On the night of October 3 and 4, 1982 an Oldsmobile car was stolen also in Toronto. The following night a Chevelle automobile was stolen in East York. This third vehicle was recovered in the parking lot of the Skyline Hotel which is a block away from the Litton factory. During one of the conversations recorded in this province, Taylor described how they stole a car but had to abandon it in a hotel parking lot near Litton's, because of a stalling problem.
27 On October 13, 1982 people living a short distance from Litton's awoke to find the Oldsmobile parked on the street. It remained in that location until just after 10 p.m. on October 14th. At about 11:10 p.m. the same evening a van, followed very closely by a vehicle matching the description of the Oldsmobile, was observed travelling very slowing on Cityview Drive approaching Litton's. When the van reached the grassed area in front of the plant it was backed up against the west wall where it was partially concealed from view by shrubs. A cardboard box painted fluorescent orange was then placed on the grass in front of the van. On top of the box were two sticks of dynamite and attached to the box was a message which read:
DANGER EXPLOSIVES - Inside this van are 550 lbs. of commercial dynamite which will explode anytime from within 15 minutes to 25 minutes after the van was parked here. The dynamite will be set off by two completely separate detonating systems. Do not enter or move the van - it will explode. Phone the police immediately and have them block off Highway 27, Cityview Drive, Dixon Road and other roads surrounding the Litton plants and have the workers inside the plants moved to protected areas. Nearby hotels and factories should also be notified so that no one will be hurt by the blast. On top of this box is an authentic sample stick of the dynamite contained inside the van. This is to confirm that this is a real bomb.
At about the same time, 11:20 p.m., as the positioning of the van was occurring, Belmas phoned the Litton security office. After the guard realized what was being said, he recorded the message which continued as follows:
And it will explode in 15 to 20 minutes. Do not enter or move the van because it will explode. This is no prank. We have left for you on the lawn beside the van a box, which is not dangerous. Taped to the box are further instructions and a stick of the same dynamite that we have used in the bomb. This should be ample evidence in confirming to you the severity of our attack. Act immediately to phone the police and have them block off traffic from Cityview drive, Highway 27, Dixon Road and other surrounding areas. Move all the workers from all of your plants to protected areas and notify the surrounding hotels to have people stay away from all windows. I want to be sure that you understand what I just said. Could you repeat the crucial information to me?
The guard indicated that he did not understand. Belmas instructed him to go to the van and read the sign. She then hung up. Other Litton security guards were immediately contacted and the first police units arrived at 11:25 p.m.
28 At about 11:31 p.m. the bomb inside the van exploded. The force of the explosion completely disintegrated the van, leaving a crater in the ground two and a half feet deep and 10 to 12 feet in diameter. The Litton plant suffered the main thrust of the explosion but damage and debris were widespread. Premises and vehicles were damaged at distances up to about 550 metres from the explosion scene. The total amount of destruction caused by the explosion was estimated at $3,877,554.34.
29 Experts calculated that approximately 500 pounds of dynamite were required to cause the crater left by the explosion. It was noted that the make, date of manufacture, size of sticks and chemical composition were the same as the dynamite stolen in British Columbia.
30 Ten people were injured by the explosion. Three were police officers; five Litton employees, and three independent citizens driving on the highway some 100 metres away. Three Litton employees will have some permanent impairment.
31 Beginning October 19, 1982 a communique began to arrive by mail at the premises of various organizations and news media outlets. The communique consisted of nine pages. Six were under the heading "Direct Action" and three under the heading "Statement Regarding the October 14 Litton Bombing." These last three pages were an explanation and an apology for the injuries caused. The first six pages contained statements as to the reasons for the bombing.
32 On December 22, 1982 the garbage emanating from the residence of the accused at 1414 - 10th Avenue, New Westminster was searched. It contained a TTC transfer for the Queen Street car, Toronto, dated October 14, 1982. Taylor's palm print was on it. After audio surveillance was begun the accused freely talked about their involvement in the Litton explosion. Upon a search of their premises, after their arrest, exhibits were found relevant to the Litton explosion. There were the photographs, drawings, and writings on the casings of the plant in April 1982. There was the folding pocket-knife, which I have mentioned, which was identified by the owner of the stolen van. There was a list of organizations to be sent the communique respecting the Litton bombing and on it was writing by Taylor and Hansen. There was a scrapbook containing articles from newspapers from all over Canada pertaining to the Litton explosion.
Red Hot Video
33 In the early afternoon of November 4, 1982, Hansen and another woman were observed looking at the Red Hot Video outlet at the corner of Boundary and Hastings Streets. Hansen walked to the rear of the store and examined the doors there. About an hour later the same day Hansen and the same woman were seen leaving a vehicle and walking directly to the area of the Red Hot Video store at 2215 Coquitlam Avenue. They remained about five minutes. Less than an hour later the two were followed in a vehicle to 7705 - 6th Street, Burnaby. Hansen left the vehicle and walked past the front of the Red Hot Video store at that address. She walked along one side of the building examining it. About half an hour later the vehicle in which Hansen and the other woman were riding stopped in front of the Red Hot Video store in the parking lot at Scott Road and 95th Avenue in Surrey. The two remained in the vehicle watching the front of the store for from three to five minutes. A further hour later they left a vehicle and walked past the front of the Red Hot Video store in Langley.
34 About 1:30 a.m. November 22, 1982 smoke and flames were seen coming from the Red Hot Video premises on Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Damage to the store and contents was approximately $5,000.00. Investigation revealed that there were three separate ignition points. Three torches with gasoline-impregnated cloth wrapped around them were found at the rear of the premises. Hansen pleaded guilty to arson in connection with this incident.
35 The same early morning the Red Hot Video store in Surrey was demolished by arson. About the same time the front window of the Red Hot Video store at 2215 Coquitlam Avenue, Coquitlam was smashed. There were two fire bombs made up of glass jars containing rocks, gasoline and soap placed inside the smashed window. Belmas attempted to fire the building but the torch burned out without causing more damage. Belmas pled guilty to attempted arson.
36 Shortly before 1:30 a.m. on November 22, 1982 two communiques were delivered to news agencies by Douglas David Stewart, at the Pacific Press Building, claiming responsibility for the three arson attacks.
37 Relevant exhibits were found at the premises 1414 - 10th Avenue, New Westminster. There were notes in Hansen's writing containing descriptions of several Red Hot Video stores with each given a rating. There was a list in her writing including "torches" and "gas containers." There were books and manuals dealing with arson and incendiary devices. There was a scanner which had the frequencies of North Vancouver Fire and R.C.M.P., Surrey Fire and R.C.M.P., and Coquitlam R.C.M.P. programmed to it. Hansen's writing was on a number of the communiques correcting the date of the fire bombing from November 17th to November 22nd and the number of stores from four to three. There was a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings concerning the Red Hot Video fire bombings.
Conspiracy to Rob - Brink's Guard at Woolco, Lougheed Mall
38 Beginning November 15, 1982, Taylor, Stewart and Belmas began surveying armoured car deliveries at shopping centres on the Lower Mainland. There was agreement between Belmas, Hansen, Taylor and Hannah that a robbery was required to finance the continued activity of the group. They were investigating the most suitable location for a holdup. From December 15, 1982 to January 1, 1983 the focus was on the Brink's delivery at Sears on Kingsway in Burnaby.
39 The conspirators carried out shooting practices on three occasions in December 1982 and January 1983. A hand gun range, a rifle range, and a shotgun range were used by the group as well as human silhouette targets so that they would become proficient with weapons for the proposed robbery and any future endeavours.
40 By January 3, 1983 the group decision had been made that Hansen, Taylor, Belmas and Hannah would commit an armed holdup of a Brink's guard at Woolco, Lougheed Mall. Detailed surveillance notes, diagrams, and sophisticated and complex plans were discussed, discarded, regenerated and reworked. The proposed robbery was discussed in every detail including the disguises to be worn, how the guard was to be overpowered and handcuffed, and the get-away achieved. The overpowering and handcuffing of the guard was practised endlessly until he could be placed face down and handcuffed in approximately 20 seconds. The get-away route was surveyed, walked, debated and finalized together with preparation of pieces of cut-up rubber garden hose with nails driven through them which were to be strewn in the path of pursuing vehicles.
41 On January 11, 1983, using the radios, a police frequency scanner and sophisticated car theft tools, Hansen, Taylor, Belmas and Hannah stole two vehicles in Vancouver for use as get-away vehicles in the robbery. One of the vehicles broke down on January 12, 1983 and was abandoned by them. A third car theft was successfully completed by all four of these persons in the early morning January 12, 1983 using the same methods and equipment.
42 The roles in the robbery were to be: Taylor would confront the armed Brink's guard with a 45-calibre pistol as the guard made his way up an aisle in Woolco from the cash office; Hannah, armed with a P.08 Luger pistol, would handcuff the guard's hands behind his back after he was placed face down on the floor; Belmas, armed with a 357 magnum revolver with hollow point ammunition, was to cover Taylor and Hannah; Hansen, armed with a Ruger mini 14 rifle which fires. 223-calibre ammunition, and with a 44 magnum revolver, was to wait in a get-away vehicle in the parking lot outside of Woolco. In that vehicle she would have a scanner set to police frequencies to monitor police activity and a hand-held radio for the purpose of being able to warn the three persons inside of any threat to their planned operation. If there was difficulty she was to provide cover with the rifle from the parking lot so that they could get to the get-away car and embark upon the get-away route. Along that route a shotgun was to be available in one of the get-away vehicles.
43 The group had access to 18 firearms. Twelve had been stolen, four purchased, and two were from unknown sources. The four purchased were Ruger, Mini 14, 223-calibre rifles. Two were purchased by Hansen and two by Belmas. Both had firearms acquisition permits for the purchase of the rifles from sports stores. After purchase the rifles were modified from wooden stocks to folding gatebutts and had the appearance of assault rifles. Taylor and Hansen controlled access to the weapons locker at 1414 - 10th Avenue, New Westminster. Other than her own firearms, Belmas had access to the weapons as and when allowed by those two. In December 1982 and January 1983, oral communications of Taylor and Belmas were intercepted in which each discussed potential uses of weapons and explosives.
The Hierarchy of the Group
44 From the agreed statement of facts we were informed that the writings, actions and intercepted private communications disclose that the hierarchy of the group was as follows:
(a) Hansen and Taylor were the committed ideological leaders of the group of five persons;
(b) Stewart was the resource person with technical expertise;
(c) Belmas was performing the role of a soldier and willing participant at the time of these events, but she was not in control nor was she a leader;
(d) Hannah, like Belmas, was a soldier.
45 As I have already indicated, counsel for Hansen and Taylor conceded that these crimes were deserving of punishment but that the judge erred in arriving at excessive sentences. Among the arguments he advanced in support of this submission was that the judge did not give sufficient weight to the good motives enunciated by these appellants as the reasons for the committal of these crimes.
46 While I do not say that motives cannot be considered in imposing a fit sentence, it is my view that because of the enormity of the crimes which were committed he was right in giving little, if any, weight to this argument. At one point in the judge's reasons he said:
...I have no doubt that all of these people are well-motivated people working, if not struggling against unfavourable odds to promote their respective causes.
Your counsel has urged me to take into account your motivation in committing the crimes that you did. That I am not prepared to do. The message must be crystal clear. Our Canadian way of life will not tolerate the use of fire, explosive substances or weapons as a means to furthering even worthy objectives.
I agree with him and wish to add to this the following.
47 Canada has provided Miss Hansen with an excellent education. She attended both McMaster and Waterloo Universities. There is no doubt that she was the leader of this group wielding great influence over them. She was older than the others. She had travelled to Europe and had worked on a newspaper. She was, as are many other Canadians, concerned with protection of the environment, the plight of the underprivileged in our Western society, and the threat of nuclear destruction. However, unlike the vast majority of law-abiding Canadians who share such concerns, she grew impatient with democratic means of achieving change. She adopted what is euphemistically called "direct action," i.e. terrorist tactics in support of these causes. This is a new phenomenon in Canada but well known in Europe. In West Germany and Italy, notorious gangs largely recruited from the middle and upper eschelons of society have become role models for terrorist acts justified in their minds by the belief that conditions in our Western democracies are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any possible constructive programme.
48 Accordingly, it is not surprising that in the home in which these appellants were residing were found books entitled: "Return of the Weathermen," "Terrorism," "Terrorism 1979 and 1980," "Guerrilla Warfare and Marxism," "How Terrorists Kill," "Urban Guerrilla," "The German Guerrilla," "Philosophy of the Urban Guerrilla," "State Terrorism," "Urban Guerrilla Warfare," and "The Mini Manual of the Urban Guerrilla."
49 Also found were typed and handwritten treatises enunciating programmes for guerrilla warfare in Canada. Although it is not possible to say which of these appellants wrote these treatises, it is sufficient to note that the doctrines espoused are consonant with the views expressed in court by both Hansen and Taylor when asked if they had anything to say before sentence. It is particularly instructive to read a typewritten piece called "Why guerrillas and what we do" and "Why have we decided to act politically as guerrillas rather than organizing and working within the left." The articles denounce not only the "privileged class" but the intellectual left and the parties of the left, including the New Democratic Party. Quoted with approval are writings of European terrorist groups urging the use of arms to achieve a revolution. In one passage the rejection of democratic means is clearly stated:
Until the masses do become sympathetic to their cause the left will only use legal means of political activity so as not to alienate the masses. These leftists are dependent upon the approval of the masses before they act and in effect allow the masses to determine for them what is politically correct. ... We must ... use direct action. ...And even if these methods alienate us from the masses we will inspire and effect (sic) some people ... a person must be willing to accept the danger inherent in this lifestyle as well as being self-motivated, strong, competent and able to come to grips with the possibility of an early death or long years in prison....
50 But it is not these writings that the judge relied upon to come to his assessment of the views of the appellants. He heard Miss Hansen at length express her views forcefully and clearly. The judge's reasons for imposing the life sentence appear from the following:
Miss Hansen, your prepared speech at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, June the fifth leads me to the conclusion that your rehabilitation has not even started although you have been incarcerated for upwards of seventeen months. I took from your prepared speech that your only remorse or regret is for the injury you caused the ten Litton Systems victims. Your philosophy and ideals impliedly were reaffirmed and unlike Mr. Hannah and Miss Belmas you through their counsel, you nor your counsel have expressed any renunciation or retraction of your past deeds or philosophies. For the eight months or more that you were planning and practising the depredations that you carried out you were a menace a real threat to our Canadian way of life. You are still of that mind and society must be protected now and in the future. I have no way of knowing how long it will be before you are no longer a threat to society. Your presently expressed views give me no guide no help in determining when it will be safe to release you back into society.
It is with a heavy heart that I must look at the totality of the sentences I originally proposed and make an appropriate reassessment.
The last of your offences was the conspiracy to rob the Brink's guard at Woolco
Lougheed Mall. By that stage of your criminal career you had apparently abandoned all of your moral principles. You were prepared to shoot to kill if necessary. Taken together with your previous disposition to bomb and to burn I have concluded that the appropriate sentence would be life imprisonment. All of the other sentences I proposed will be as specified, but concurrent to the sentence of life imprisonment.
51 I have read the full text of Miss Hansen's address to the judge. A salient feature of her text was that legal channels are not available to remedy the wrongs she perceives to exist and that accordingly she had the right to take illegal action. She said, in part:
...And I believe that this moral obligation far overrides our obligation to obey man-made laws. ...I felt that it was necessary to begin the development of a resistance movement that could carry out sabotage and expropriations free from the surveillance of the police.
52 It was suggested to this Court that these views were indications of justification existing at the time but were not indications of a future threat to society. But she went on to say that "the development of a resistance movement is not an overnight affair. It takes decades of evolution. It has to start somewhere, and in small numbers and whether or not it grows and becomes effective and successful will depend on whether or not we make it happen." These are not the words of a person who has abandoned the undertaking of further illegal acts in support of a philosophy which rejects the democratic process.
53 As regards Mr. Taylor, he is now 28 years old. He is the son of two university teachers. He began but did not complete university. He too became active in anti-nuclear and environmental groups and in the cause of aboriginal women. He too prepared a statement which he read to the judge before sentence. He began by saying: "My purpose for speaking today is to re-affirm my commitment to the basic values and ideals which motivated me to struggle." He enunciated his good motives, his desire for a better society, but admitted that in order to achieve his ends he took up illegal activities. He does not renounce his past actions, and in my view the judge was correct in assessing his culpability and in the sentence which he imposed.
54 In regard to Taylor, the judge said that unlike Belmas and Hannah, his co-accused, Taylor did not renounce violence as a means to accomplish his objectives. He said that although no property damage or personal injury occurred during Taylor's crimes (and, of course, he was not sentencing with respect to Litton), he felt that this appellant's philosophy and intention to use weapons and dynamite in the future made both types of destruction an inevitability. With respect to the offence of conspiring to rob the Brink's guard, the judge said that in view of Taylor's other nine crimes he could not consider him any longer a first offender. I agree.
55 In both cases the judge decided that the protection of the public by deterring further acts such as these was of paramount importance in arriving at these sentences. I agree and would dismiss the appeals of Hansen and Taylor.
56 I come now to the case of Miss Belmas. She was 18 years old at the beginning of these events. She completed Grade 12 and took a semester at Douglas College. Like the others, she comes from a middle-class family. She too became an early participant in many political non-violent protests. There is no doubt that she was influenced by Miss Hansen. She expressed remorse for actions before the judge. In her behalf the judge had letters of support from a minister, a psychologist and a life-long friend. He noted her concern with ecological problems and nuclear arms. He said:
...There are many dedicated people and organizations in this country who share those views, many of whom are prepared to dedicate themselves with heart, voice
and action to bring about appropriate change in the attitudes of others but their laudable motives and now yours pale into insignificance when violence to persons or property is the means to bring about such change.
I agree with him. There is no doubt that she participated in a wide range of depredations before she was arrested. In particular she was culpable in both the Litton Systems bombing and the conspiracy to rob. The judge then said:
...Your counsel has properly pointed out that now that specific deterrence is directed toward you your future conduct is no longer of great significance because of your rehabilitation and reformation that is now under way, if not complete. Therefore, his submission goes only for general deterrence to others is to be considered. To a great extent I agree that my sentence must be directed to general deterrence so that other like-minded may be forewarned. However, I do not abandon the specific deterrence principle because I have a long-standing scepticism about people incarcerated when they assess themselves and then set about convincing others that they have been rehabilitated.
57 In speaking to us Miss Belmas repeated the remorse she expressed to the judge. She renounced the path she had taken and categorically stated that she had abandoned her former views which led her to commit these crimes. She was frank to concede that she was deserving of punishment for her past misdeeds but asked in view of her renunciation of her former philosophy that we reduce her sentence.
58 In assessing the matter I am influenced by certain letters this appellant has put before us. In one of them the warden of the Prison for Women says this:
Overall, I have personally seen many inmates who have been admitted to the institution. Looking closely at Ms. Belmas, I would think that she has a better than average chance of turning her life around and eventually accepting and demonstrating her sincerity.
The said inmate's offences were serious and at the time she was sentenced accordingly. At this stage, I am of the opinion that consideration for a reduced sentence would help to advance the inmate's rehabilitation and assist in her re-entry to the community. It is my view that inmate Belmas at this time is not a hardened, committed urban terrorist, but a friendly and motivated young woman who will unlikely revert back to her former lifestyle.
I am confident that when the Appeal Court see and hear from inmate Belmas, they will observe her to be a different person that she was when she was originally sentenced....
59 The letter of another officer of the prison contains these passages:
With regards to institutional adjustment, to date, Belmas has "mainly done her own time". This means she fraternizes socially with a select group of inmates, mainly identified as quiet non-violent types and she avoids power/politically minded or problematic individuals and groups.
This consistent presentation of self to both staff and inmates during the last 9 - 10 months did not profit her in the immediate sense to do so as privileges such as specific living quarters were earned by the subject only after her behavior and demeanor were closely monitored and evaluated. As an individual of apparent renewed integrity in the face of a population geared and sustained against this end, she has had to contend on a daily basis with other inmates' reactions, opinions and expectations, in other words, the ingredients of social conflict. While doing "her time" this way is a contradiction to the publicity and reputation that preceded her she is regarded by some inmates as an enigma
by others as a positive way of doing time and gaining from an incarceration and yet by others, as a threat to a way of life in prison. Despite these reactions within the closed confines of this institution she remains steadfast in her personal example of the way a person should do time. In her own way, undersigned believes this is one way of attempting to right a wrong she has done.
60 After anxious reflection, having considered her age, her statement made before us, the prospect of rehabilitation and the stated acceptance by her of the democratic process for achieving reforms, I would reduce her sentence to one of 15 years.