Luring appeal hearing

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a Crown appeal of a lower court decision that ruled as unconstitutional the mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for luring a child into sexual activity via the internet.

The case involves Douglas Morrison, a Toronto-area man who posted an ad on Craigslist in 2013 seeking "a little girl to meet and have some fun with him," ultimately conducting sexually explicit conversations by computer with a police officer claiming to be a 14-year-old girl.

At trial, Morrison said he believed the respondent was an adult and they were engaged in role-playing.

The judge accepted Morrison's argument that part of the law, which presumes an accused knows a victim is underage unless they can show they took reasonable steps to find out otherwise, imposes a presumption of guilt and is unconstitutional. However, the requirement that an accused make a reasonable effort to check the age of a respondent was upheld.

The judge accepted that the one-year mandatory minimum sentence violated the charter and sentenced Morrison to four months and probation and this was upheld on appeal.

The case is another in a series of legal rulings which have whittled away at mandatory minimum sentences enacted as part of the former Harper government's tough-on-crime agenda.

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