R v Zhang, 2022 SKWB 192

Zhang is appealing the five-month conditional sentence for killing one cat and seriously wounding another wilfully and without lawful cause. In 2019, he had been left at the home where he lived with his partner of four years alone with two young children and two cats and when his partner returned, she found one cat dead and the other injured. The police were called, and Zhang made a statement that he had been fighting with the cats while giving them a bath and they scratched him. At trial, his partner testified for the Crown that Zhang had told her that he didn’t know that the cat would die by him hitting them. The defence called no evidence.

Zhang raised five issues on appeal, all of which were dismissed by the Court that found the sentence was reasonable and appropriate. Among Zhang’s claims were the following:

  1. That there was inadequate assistance of counsel that led to a miscarriage of justice. The judge found that there was no evidence of any professional misconduct and Zhang did not meet the onus of proof to show any miscarriage of justice.
  2. That his section 14 Charter right to an interpreter was breached because there was no interpreter for the whole trial. The judge found that an interpreter was present in the trial when all evidence was put forth and only left once all evidence was in.
  3. That the trial judge failed to adequately consider all the evidence and provide reasons for his conclusions. It was determined that the trial judge was made aware of the issue of circumstantial evidence and properly assessed the credibility of the witnesses.
  4. That the trial was not conducted within a reasonable time frame according to R v Jordan, violating his section 11(b) Charter rights. Although the presumptive ceiling is 18 months for cases tried in Provincial Court, and Zhang’s trial was a total of 21 months, 19 days, the judge found that the additional delay was due to exceptional circumstances (COVID-19), and that the delay was not unreasonable.
  5. That the sentence imposed was unreasonable. The sentence was found to be appropriate as the maximum penalty is imprisonment for a term of 2 years. A jail sentence was appropriate and required, but since Zhang had no record or any other charges since the offence, a five-month community-based jail sentence with conditions was appropriate.