Supreme Court to look at mandatory minimum firearm sentence in Alberta case

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen, Thursday January 16, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Supreme Court of Canada will look at the constitutionality of a mandatory minimum penalty of four years in prison for recklessly firing a gun.

The court has agreed to hear the appeal of Jesse Dallas Hills, who pleaded guilty to four charges stemming from a May 2014 incident in Lethbridge, Alta., in which he swung a baseball bat and shot at a car with a bolt-action rifle, smashed the window of a vehicle and fired rounds into a family home.

Hills had consumed large amounts of prescription medication and alcohol, and said he did not remember the events.

READ MORE: Alberta justice minister blasts feds’ attempt to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for some firearms offences

He argued the minimum four-year sentence for recklessly discharging a firearm violated the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

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A judge agreed and Hills was sentenced to a term of three-and-a-half years, but the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the finding of unconstitutionality and the sentence was increased to four years.

READ MORE: Liberals aim to tackle systemic racism in the justice system with proposed law 

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear Hills’ appeal.

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