A man who choked his ex-wife into unconsciousness and then abducted their son has won an appeal of his sentence that effectively reduced the term from three years to two.
However, due to a recent breach of his parole conditions, the win was not a clean one for Benjamin James McBeath. After hearing evidence from the Crown, B.C. appeal-court judges added a probation term of three years to his sentence.
“With the enhanced credit, Mr. McBeath will have served his sentence, though it is clear that his former spouse still needs protection from him,” notes a July 17 judgment.
McBeath was arrested in September 2011 after police were called to a home in the 1500-block of King George Boulevard in South Surrey. There, officers determined there had been a dispute, an alleged assault and an alleged abduction.
The court heard that McBeath was arrested en route to turn himself in at Surrey RCMP. In December of that year, he pleaded guilty to abduction of a child under 16, assault causing bodily harm and being unlawfully in a dwelling house.
His initial sentence, pronounced in May 2012, amounted to 38 months: three concurrent three-year terms, plus two months in connection with an Aug. 31, 2011 assault on his wife, minus eight months for time served.
He was released on parole in March 2013.
On appeal, McBeath was granted an additional four months credit for time served, to a total of 12 months, effectively reducing his sentence to a provincial term of two years less a day. The move means he is not automatically deprived of a return to work with the Correctional Service of Canada. Prior to his arrest, McBeath was chief of finances at the Matsqui Penitentiary.
In pronouncing McBeath’s sentence at Surrey Provincial Court in May 2012, Judge James Bahen said the degree of violence and other aggressive behaviour noted in the case couldn’t be ignored.
“They provide strong inferences of a risk of future violence,” Bahen said. “He cannot be released into the community until there has been an effort to reduce the risk he poses.”
In their July 2014 decision, Justices David Harris, Richard Goepel and Elizabeth Bennett note there were factors in McBeath’s case that spoke against enhanced credit.
“… including the fact that days before this (September 2011) incident, Mr. McBeath had committed another offence against the complainant, and had been released on bail with conditions not to contact her. Instead, he broke into her house, tried to sabotage her computer, unlawfully confined her and her son, and almost killed her,” the judgment states.
“In this case, when all of the circumstances are taken into consideration… it would be a proper factor for the sentencing judge to consider, and perhaps deny enhanced credit on this basis, however, as this court needs to look at the sentence afresh, I have concluded that in these circumstances, I would allow enhanced credit.”