R v Alcorn, 2015 ABCA 182

The accused hung a cat by its hind legs from the rafters in his garage and cut its throat so that it bled out on the accused’s girlfriend who was positioned below as part of a sexual ritual. The accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 24 months imprisonment (20 months for animal cruelty, 3 months for sexual assault, 1 month for breach of recognizance), and a prohibition from owning an animal or bird. The accused appealed the three sentences on the basis that the sentencing judge erred in using a pre-trial fitness assessment report to determine the circumstances of the offences because it contained a “major amplification in character and in particulars”. The court found it was an error and newly considered a fit sentence for each of the charges.
The court considered the conclusions from two reports, finding that the accused suffered from various disorders that resulted in the offences, and that he was intelligent and in control of his actions.
On appeal of the animal cruelty sentence, the Crown argued that the provision of the pre-sentencing report was unopposed by defence and this amounted to an admission of the contents or waiver of objection to the contents. The court rejected this argument stating that this was a conditional consensual admission and was not a blanket waiver or admission. The court went on to discuss the proper use of reports in this context.
The court ultimately upheld the sentencing judge’s sentence on the basis of denunciation and deterrence, and considering the motive of self-gratification, sadism and premeditation of the offence. The sentence was on the higher end of the range of sentences for animal cruelty but the court stated that this was by no means a cap. The appeal was dismissed.