Kingston teen sentenced to maximum youth sentence in terrorism case

A young person from Kingston has been sentenced to two years in custody followed by one year of community supervision, the maximum allowable under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), for terrorism-related charges stemming from a 2019 investigation. The sentence was handed down today, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, as The Ontario Court of Justice was sitting as a youth justice court in Belleville, Ontario.

Superintendent Michael LeSage, Criminal Operations Officer for the RCMP ‘O’ Division, addresses the media at a press conference held at Kingston Police Headquarters to discuss the terrorism arrests on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, as Chief Antje McNeely of Kingston Police looks on. Photo by Cris Vilela.

The youth, who cannot be named under the Act, pleaded guilty to four terrorism offences on July 28, 2020, and to a breach of his bail conditions thereby acknowledging responsibility for his actions. 

The youth in question was arrested and charged at a home in Kingston after a raid by Kingston Police and members of the RCMP on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

The arrest came after tips from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led to a National security criminal investigation, which began in December 2018.

The teen, a 17-year-old at the time of his pleading guilty, admitted to the following offences contrary to the Criminal Code:

  1. Facilitating a terrorist activity, contrary to s. 83.19
  2. Having in his possession an explosive substance with the intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, contrary to s. 81(1)(d)
  3. Doing anything with the intent to cause an explosion of an explosive substance that was likely to cause serious bodily harm or death, contrary to s. 81(1)(a)
  4. Counselling someone to detonate an explosive device in a public place to cause serious injury or death, contrary to ss. 464(a) and 431.2

In an Agreed Statement of Facts filed with the court, the teen admitted to manufacturing an explosive substance, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), with the objective of manufacturing an explosive device to place either in a public place or to place under a police or military vehicle with the intent of killing innocent people. The objective was to commit terrorist activities for the benefit of a listed terrorist entity (that called itself the “Islamic State”). A search of his residence resulted in the seizure of all the necessary materials to build an explosive device. 

According to the PPSC, he also admitted to creating a PowerPoint presentation detailing the instructions on building a successful pressure cooker bomb, and disseminating it through various communications applications. After providing the instructions, he counselled an individual to build the device and place it in a bar, a public place, in order to kill innocent people for a political, religious or ideological purpose.

RCMP conduct a raid in Kingston on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Photo by Cris Vilela.

At the outset of the hearing, Tom Lemon, Senior General Counsel of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) counsel had made an application for an adult sentence but advised the Court that this position would be re-assessed after hearing evidence from witnesses. 

After considering ongoing evidence concerning the teen’s potential for rehabilitation, the Crown determined that the application for an adult sentence was no longer appropriate in light of the legal tests contained in the YCJA and withdrew the application on January 28, 2022. The Crown joined with defence counsel in recommending that the court impose the maximum youth sentence with no credit for the three years of custody already served.

According to the PPSC, many factors were considered in order to come to this conclusion: the young person was just 15 years old at the time of the offences, and, based upon the reports received, had strong family support, a keen commitment to educational studies during his three years of custody, positive behaviour and participation in rehabilitative programs and counselling, including participation in cultural and spiritual counselling, as well as a recent diagnosis with a degenerative medical condition. 

The Crown also consulted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who recognized the appropriateness of such a sentence.

PPSC Prosecutor Tom Lemon said, “Mindful of the purposes of the YCJA and the principles of sentencing identified in s. 38, and in light of his assessed progress documented in numerous reports over the past three years, a three-year youth sentence will adequately hold the young person accountable and promote his rehabilitation and reintegration into society. This youth sentence, including the additional supervision that will be provided, will reduce the risk of recidivism, thus ensuring better protection of the public.” The judge, in imposing sentence, agreed that the joint submission satisfied the applicable sentencing principles and was appropriate.

Members of the public will recall that there were lockdowns of several area schools in late November and early December or 2018 due to threats made by telephone; this investigation and arrest is separate and unrelated.

This is an ongoing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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