R v Bourque 2013 BCCA 447

Ms. Bourque was a student at Simon Fraser University. Ms. Bourque told another student that she had killed and dismembered cats, including her family’s pets. She also expressed her intention of killing a homeless person. Campus security was contacted and Ms. Bourque was arrested under the Mental Health Act. A police search of Ms. Bourque’s room found a ‘kill kit’, video footage of Ms. Bourque killing her family dog and cat and other disturbing materials including child pornography. Ms. Bourque was psychologically assessed and found to have a moderate-high to high risk of reoffending violently, likely targeting vulnerable individuals. Ms. Bourque was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to two animals (s. 445.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code), killing two animals (s. 445(1)(a) of the Criminal Code), and possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to public peace (s. 88(2) of the Criminal Code). Ms. Bourque was sentenced to two months’ incarceration (in addition to seven months’ pre-trial custody) and three years probation. Ms. Bourque appealed some of the 46 conditions in her probation order, arguing that they were “irrelevant, unnecessary, vague, unreasonable and […] do not fulfill a valid purpose under the Criminal Code.”

The Court noted that the many conditions placed on Ms. Bourque were partly in response to the fact that her substantive offences against animals could not result in a sentence of long imprisonment or a long-term supervision order despite psychological assessments indicating a need for Ms. Bourque to be subject to such supervision for reasons of public safety. The Court then affirmed the conditions’ validity with few modifications.

Of particular interest is the Court’s response to Ms. Bourque’s objection to the use of s. 447.1 of the Criminal Code – prohibiting her from owning, having the custody or control of or residing in the same premises of an animal or bird for life. The Court found there is “nothing to support a request for leniency on this prohibition”, that her tendency towards animal abuse was “lifelong, not situational” and that she has “lost the privilege of having the companionship of animals by betraying their trust in her.”

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: British Columbia

Topics: animal crueltyCatsCriminal Codedogsprobation order

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