The sentencing hearing for Joel Perry, who pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and other charges in connection with a series of indecent phone calls, got underway in Surrey Provincial Court Monday. (File photo)

18 months conditional term for indecent caller

Incidents reported in Surrey, White Rock and Langley

A Vancouver Island man who pleaded guilty to making dozens of harassing and indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C. – including to a senior in a care home – has been handed an 18-month conditional sentence for the crimes.

In imposing the term – suggested jointly by lawyers on both sides of the case – Monday in Surrey Provincial Court, Judge Peder Gulbransen said he put “critical importance” on the fact Joel Perry did not continue the behaviour after his arrest.

He described Perry’s motivation for the nine-month spree as “a real mystery.”

“I don’t think anyone knows why this happened.”

In making sentencing submissions, prosecutor Rajiv Khangura noted Perry had no previous criminal history and has “reasonable prospects of rehabilitation.”

At the same time, Perry has “a lack of insight” into the offences, Khangura said.

“Some of the victims were elderly and vulnerable,” the calls spanned nine months and didn’t stop until his arrest in May 2018, he added.

Defence counsel Janeen Sandhu told the court Perry’s behaviour was “due to his pain” from a difficult childhood. He was abandoned by his parents, and experienced abuse and neglect in an orphanage before he was adopted, Sandhu said.

He is remorseful, she added, noting Perry wanted to “assure these two women (who provided victim impact statements) that they have nothing to fear from him going forward.”

Perry, 33, was arrested three months after Mounties issued a warning about an indecent and threatening caller. The warning came after several women – from White Rock, Langley and Surrey – reported receiving disturbing calls.

READ MORE: B.C. man faces 70 charges related to disturbing phone calls

The court heard Monday that Perry would tell some of the women he called that he was watching them through cameras he had installed in their homes, and that he would threaten to have someone hurt them if they didn’t engage in sexually explicit conversation.

Gulbransen, in his reasons, noted the effect of such calls “can be devastating.”

At the same time, “I’m satisfied that he had no intention to satisfy a need in himself… To cause people to be deathly afraid.”

Police said there was no evidence to suggest the caller had installed cameras, and that they believed the man had been gleaning the women’s personal information through their social-media accounts.

One of the victims who attended court, a White Rock woman, told Peace Arch News outside court that she received “six or seven” calls at home from Perry. Noting she had “a lot to digest,” the woman said she was relieved Perry wasn’t handed a jail term.

“Jail was certainly not the answer,”she said.

The BC Prosecution Service approved 70 charges against Perry, in connection with incidents that occurred between September 2017 and April 2018. Court records show 15 of those related to incidents in White Rock.

Guilty pleas – a total of 32 – were entered on Dec. 14.

In addition to the conditional term, Perry was handed three years probation and multiple conditions.

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