Suter: Mixed Results as Courts Grapple with Uniqueness

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Appeals, Appeal from Sentence, Grounds, Error in Principle


In Suter, three levels of court agreed that the case was: "unique in several respects". The particular circumstances of the offence and/or the offender called for a sentence that fell "outside the normal sentencing range," and was "exceptional," "extraordinary," to the point that the confluence of facts was "beyond imagination." Thereafter, the eleven judges who struggled to determine a suitable disposition for causing "devastating consequences," the death of a two-year-old eating dinner at a restaurant with his family, were often at odds. The Supreme Court of Canada, determined that both lower courts "committed errors in principle," imposing "unfit sentences in the circumstances of this case". The Court has left a mixed legacy.