ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
The country’s top court has denied serial rapist Sofyan Boalag an appeal of his sentence and his dangerous offender status.
The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Boalag’s application Thursday, saying it won’t hear his appeal of the unanimous decision the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador gave on the matter last fall. That means Boalag will remain a dangerous offender with no set prison release date.
Boalag sexually assaulted two women and a child in separate attacks as they walked home from the downtown St. John’s area in 2012. He also robbed the girl and one of the women and choked the other woman until she was unconscious. He was armed with a stick in the first attack and a knife in the other two.
Boalag was convicted and deemed by a provincial court judge to be a dangerous offender and sent to Atlantic Instiution in Renous, N.B., to serve an indeterminate jail sentence. He appealed that sentence and his dangerous offender status with the province’s court of appeal, which dismissed the case last September.
Boalag’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, had argued that when it came to assessing Boalag’s level of risk, there was no evidence to suggest he belonged on the dangerous offender list. He suggested s 10- to 12-year jail term was more appropriate for his client.
“I would suggest that these offences, while horrific, are fairly minor on the scale of dangerous offender predicate offences,” Noonan told the panel of three justices, comparing the case to previous unrelated sexual assault convictions of other offenders.
Noonan also pointed out Boalag had no criminal history to suggest he was deviant or violent before 2012.
“These are horrific offences, however dangerous offender (status) is the most severe designation in Canada and it’s reserved for the worst of the worst.”
Justice Gale Welsh disagreed with Noonan on the spot.
“Yes, but Mr. Noonan, if you look what happened,” she said. “That fact that he wasn’t caught or didn’t do it before, how does that impact the fact that you have these three really violent and very disturbing attacks in such a short period of time?”
Two of the survivors of Boalag’s crimes told The Telegram at the time of the appeal they were shocked and hurt by the defence’s arguments. There was nothing minor about what Boalag did to them, they said.
“I don’t even know how (Noonan) can use that word,” one woman said. “I thought I was going to die. It wasn’t minor. It was a sexual assault with a weapon.”
Prosecutor Dana Sullivan called Noonan’s arguments offensive and argued Boalag had been found by the original judge to meet all four criteria for a dangerous offender, even though only one would have sufficed for the designation.
Dangerous offender status in Canada is reserved for sexual predators and otherwise violent criminals, when the Crown is able to prove a high risk of the offender committing other serious offences in the future. The designation comes with an automatic indefinite jail sentence with no chance of parole for seven years.
While some members of the public have suggested deporting Boalag to his native Algeria as a sentence for his crimes, it is not an option. Judges in criminal matters have no authority in that context to order an offender’s deportation; they are bound by the Criminal Code in terms of sentencing. It’s the Canada Border Services Agency that has the authority to deport foreign nationals or permanent residents who have committed serious crimes, and deportation orders aren’t acted upon until an offender is released from prison, except in rare cases where Canada has an agreement with an offender’s native country and the offender can serve their sentence there.
Immigration officials have indicated Boalag will be deported whenever he’s released from prison.
Tara Bradbury reports on justice and the courts in St. John’s.