A man who pleaded guilty to an impaired driving fatal collision will find out his fate after a special report is completed on his background. Blaine Taypotat pleaded guilty to manslaughter and impaired driving causing the death of conservation officer Justin Knackstedt and will be sentenced in April.

Knackstedt and a colleague had stopped to help first responders with traffic control while they were dealing with a crash on Highway 11 on May 31, 2013. He was killed when Taypotat sped through the crash scene and hit Knackstedt. Taypotat was caught when his SUV rolled near the Highway 16 interchange.

The delay in sentencing will give Taypotat’s defence enough time to commission a Gladue report. The report focuses on an aboriginal offender’s history and upbringing and will be presented to the court before sentencing occurs.

READ MORE: Man pleads guilty to running down Saskatchewan conservation officer

“What he went through as a child and up to date, his whole experience with the criminal justice system has certainly been something that has damaged him and it’s something that is very important to put before the court,” said Josephine de Whytell, who represents Taypotat.

Fully-fledged Gladue reports are rare in Saskatchewan, with only a handful having ever been commissioned, according to Saskatoon-based lawyer Brian Pfefferle.

“What it would involve is a third party individual with usually a basic understanding on the individual’s background,” said Pfefferle, who wrote an article on the subject in the Manitoba Law Journal in 2008.

“That third party would interview the offender, then interview a number of the offender’s family members,” he added.

Gladue gets its name from a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision. It set out how justices should interpret a section of the Criminal Code that called for “particular attention” to be paid to the “circumstances of aboriginal offenders” during sentencing.

Some critics of the report say it unfairly singles out a section of the population based on heritage. Others have gone as far as calling the reports racist.

“A lot of people that have that mindset have not had the benefit of a very good education about what colonialism was, how it affected this country,” said de Whytell, who is commissioning a fully-fledged Gladue report for the first time.

Pfefferle said he believes one public misconception is that lawyers will ask for a report just to get their client a lighter sentence.

“It’s not an automatic discount, it just sheds some light,” said Pfefferle.

“The more dangerous the particular offender appears to be, the less likely the Gladue report will influence the exact length of a jail sentence,” he added.

Source: Global News


Last updated on: 2015-01-09 | Link to this post