The man charged with murder in the deaths of a young Calgary woman and her daughter could face deportation if he’s eventually found guilty of the crimes.
Robert Leeming was charged on Tuesday with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter, Aliyah Sanderson.
The two were reported missing on April 23 after they didn’t show for a family dinner. Calgary police investigators believe the two were killed by Leeming sometime between April 16 and 17 in Calgary and later, their bodies were taken to the Grizzly Creek area of Kananaskis Country, where they were discovered early Monday morning.
Leeming is facing two charges of second-degree murder, each of which would come with an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 10 years. If convicted of both, a judge could decide to have Leeming serve those sentences concurrently or consecutively, which would double the length of time he would be behind bars.
Leeming has denied involvement in the disappearances of Lovett and Sanderson and has not entered a plea. No trial date has been set and his next court appearance is scheduled for May 14.
In an interview on April 26, the same day he was released following his first arrest and a day of questioning in police custody, Leeming told Global News he was from England and has permanent resident status in Canada.
If true, that means Leeming would face deportation if he was convicted, according to Calgary immigration lawyer Michael Greene who is not involved in the case.
“He would definitely be deportable and he would have no right of appeal,” Greene told Global News on Tuesday. “His only chance would be to convince a Canada Border Services [Agency] (CBSA) officer that he shouldn’t be deported. And I wouldn’t like anybody’s chances when it’s a double murder.”
Greene said in the past, a person with permanent resident status who received a sentence up to two years had an opportunity to appeal a deportation order. Now, that option is only available for people with sentences six months or less.
WATCH: Man charged in Calgary double homicide appears in court. Jill Croteau reports.
If convicted, Leeming would serve out his sentence in Canada but would be deported immediately upon being granted parole.
“The policy of the government is that if you’re convicted of a criminal offence, you pay the price first. You have to serve your time,” Greene said.
“That prevents people from getting deported say, just after they’re convicted and then walking free on the streets and never having to serve a penalty.”
Most times, the deportation proceedings will be started while the person is in jail, Greene said. They will get a letter saying they’re subject to being deported and they have 15 days to put together a case stating why they shouldn’t be. He said often times, people don’t realize how serious that is, and don’t contact immigration lawyers like him until it’s too late.
A similar fate will likely be faced by Jaskurat Singh Sidu, who pleaded guilty in January to all charges laid against him in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, which left 16 people dead, including 10 players, and injured 13 others.
Sidu, who is not a Canadian citizen, was sentenced to eight years in prison for 29 dangerous driving convictions. Because that’s beyond six months, he faces possible deportation back to India after serving his time.
Greene said he doesn’t think the policy around the deportation of those convicted of crimes is fair, adding it doesn’t facilitate due process.
“It’s kind of a double standard that we set and immigrants don’t get the same respect,” he said.
“I think it’s wrong. I think we should have a process that allows for all facts to be heard and evidence to be heard and an independent decision-maker who’s not an enforcement officer should make the decision.”
WATCH: Police continue search in Kananaskis where bodies of Jasmine Lovett, Aliyah Sanderson were found. Lauren Pullen reports.
Greene said the immigration system is one part of the justice system that’s “frankly unjust and overly punitive.”
“I’ve seen, unfortunately, too many cases of somebody who’d been here since they were a child, they made a mistake, they committed an offence either through intention or inadvertence,” he said. “Years later, they’re getting their status taken away and their family is being ripped apart and there are all kinds of people affected, not just the individual.”
Deportation from Canada can’t happen if a person is simply charged with a crime, so if Leeming is tried and not convicted, he will be free to stay in the country.