Rosie Gillingham
Published on January 05, 2013

Jeremy Branton is seen here at St. John’s provincial court in a file photo.

The Crown believes the judge who sentenced a man to 10 months in jail for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy put too much importance on the man’s mental health issues in making her decision.It’s one of the grounds of appeal filed by the Crown recently regarding the case of Jeremy Branton.

Branton was convicted last fall on charges of sexual assault and breach of probation.

The 20-year-old was sentenced in early December by provincial court judge Lori Marshall in St. John’s. With straight-time credit for the 132 days he had spent in custody, it left just over five months left on his term. The sentence also included three years’ probation.

In making her decision, Marshall took into consideration Branton’s troubled past.

He had been sexually assaulted by his uncle as a child, exhibited improper sexual behaviour towards other kids while growing up and went on to commit sexual crimes.

Marshall said while she recognizes the importance of denunciation and deterrence, Branton’s circumstances must also be considered, and his need to be rehabilitated.

She pointed out that Branton had expressed a desire to get counselling and to take medication for his attention deficit and hyperactivity deficit (ADHD) disorder, which would help control his impulses.

However, in its appeal application, the Crown states “the sentencing judge erred in principle by overemphasizing the accused’s mental health issues without considering how those issues related to the commission of the offences.”

The other grounds of appeal include that Marshall “misapprehended” the facts and lawyers’ submissions; that she misinterpreted the court of appeal’s decision regarding certain case law; that she failed to give primary consideration to the principles of denunciation and deterrence.

“The sentencing judge erred in law by imposing a sentence which was demonstrably unfit,” the applications states.

Branton was arrested July 26. According to the facts of the case, he had bought a teen cigarettes and brought him to his residence, where he exposed himself to the boy and attempted anal sex. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault and breaching probation. Charges of invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference were withdrawn by the Crown.

The sentence was significantly less than the three-year term Crown prosecutor Glynn Faulkner had suggested.

She had noted Branton had just been sentenced in May 2012 to 30 days in jail after he was convicted of sexual interference, also involving a person younger than 16.

Defence lawyer Ken Hollett had suggested a sentence of under two years.

There’s no word yet when the appeal will be argued in court. Twitter: @TelyCourt