Lawyer eyes Charter challenge against minimum sentence in sex assault case

The Court of Queen’s Bench building in Prince Albert, Sask. in late September, 2017. Evan Radford/Daily Herald

NOTE: There are multiple people with similar names to Phillip Durocher. The convicted man is not Philip Durocher out of Ile a la Crosse.

A local lawyer said he plans to challenge a mandatory minimum sentence for his client, just convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

Phillip Joseph Durocher of Wahpeton was in a Prince Albert court Friday to hear the judge’s decision. He was facing allegations that he snuck into the girl’s room on two separate nights to touch her inappropriately in June 2013.

Justice R.C. Mills said he believed the girl when she testified in court.

“Her testimony about the two incidents was clear, consistent, not confused or changing,” he said. “She didn’t embellish her story when she had the chance.”

Mills convicted Durocher of sexual assault and moved to schedule a sentencing hearing. At that moment, defence lawyer Gordon Kirkby said he plans to mount a constitutional challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“There are some mandatory minimums at play and I will be making a charter application to overturn them,” he said.

The mandatory minimum sentence for sexually abusing a minor is one year in jail when the offence is tried by indictment.

Kirkby declined to comment on what section he will base his challenge on. Crown prosecutor John Syrnick was also hesitant to speculate. But he later said that such challenges often focus on cruel and unusual punishment.

Durocher’s sentencing hearing is set for January 2018.

For more on this story, see the Saturday October 21 edition of the Daily Herald.