Defence perceives bias

Two men found guilty of numerous weapons charges in September were expected to be sentenced in a Kelowna courtroom Tuesday, but additional judicial applications have delayed the process.

Admitted Hells Angels member Joseph Bruce Skreptak and Cory Montemurro were each found guilty of various firearms charges after their vehicle was pulled over near Salmon Arm in 2010.

But in an application presented to the court by Skreptak’s lawyer Kelly Christiansen, it was argued that Justice Allan Betton – the man presiding over the sentencing hearing – should step down from the situation due to a perceived bias.

It was Justice Geoff Barrow who presided over the trial and subsequent guilty verdict, but he was unable to attend the sentencing hearing, leaving Betton to be assigned to the matter.

He is the same judge who sentenced Skreptak to jail last year for aggravated assault.

Christiansen argued for Betton to recuse himself from the matter due to a “reasonable apprehension of bias,” and stated that his prior knowledge of Skreptak’s criminal history could cloud his judgment in making a decision in the case at hand.

Crown counsel Sandra Dworkin countered by saying that a mere allegation of bias is not enough to simply arouse suspicions, and that there must be a real apprehension of bias.

Following a short break in the proceedings, Betton went through his decision from the previous assault case but decided there was no issue and dismissed the application.

The sentencing is now expected to take place next month.


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