Dalhousie Law Journal


Donald Michawl Doyle, murder, wife, life imprisonment, sentencing, Crown, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, femicide


In August of 1989, Donald Michael Doyle murdered his wife of fifteen years by firing three shots into her chest while she slept. He was charged with first degree murder, and pleaded guilty to second degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole until after the statutory minimum of ten years. The Crown appealed the sentencing decision of the trial judge, and argued for a greater period of parole ineligibility. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and raised the period of imprisonment without parole to seventeen years. The differences between the sentencing decisions of the trial judge and the Court of Appeal in this case reveal markedly different attitudes and approaches to intimate femicide. Intimate femicide is the killing of women by their intimate male partners.' The very nature of the crime places specific demands on the exercise of judicial discretion in fixing a sentence. Failure to recognize these special demands can lead to an inappropriate assessment both of the serious nature of the crime to be deterred, and the danger represented to society by the offender.