Simon Houle will finally go to prison: the Court of Appeal has just canceled the conditional discharge he had received after pleading guilty to sexual assault and voyeurism.
The highest court in Quebec orders the man to surrender to prison authorities no later than January 30. He will have to spend 12 months behind bars.
“The type of sexual acts committed by Mr. Houle are not insignificant”, writes the Court of Appeal, restoring order to the sentencing factors used by Judge Matthieu Poliquin of the Court of Quebec .
Simon Houle had pleaded guilty to having undressed a sleeping young woman, inserted his fingers into her private parts and taken photographs of her.
The sentence imposed last June by Judge Poliquin was shocking: many people considered it too lenient considering the seriousness of the acts and the heavy consequences for the victim. In addition to the result, remarks made by the judge had also been denounced, in particular the fact that he had written that the sexual assault “had all taken place quite quickly” and the fact that a prison sentence would have had “disproportionate” negative consequences for the accused.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) had appealed the judgment on the sentence. He had initially asked for 12 to 15 months in prison.
The Court of Appeal ultimately granted his request. By its judgment delivered on Wednesday, it sentenced the man to 12 months in prison for the sexual assault and two months for the count of voyeurism. But as she orders that the two sentences be served concurrently, this means for Simon Houle 12 months of incarceration.
“Hidden” aggravating factors
The Court considers that Judge Poliquin took a comprehensive approach to sentencing on the two charges and that this led him to “hide” certain aggravating factors related to that of voyeurism, “in particular the number of photos, their content and the fact that they remained accessible on Mr. Houle’s telephone for 44 days”. The photographs were also seen by a friend of his.
“As the prosecutor pleads, the victim will never be able to be certain that his sexual integrity and his private life are no longer in danger. »
He violated a sphere of his private life which is essential to the respect of his dignity, recalls the Court.
She also calls to order Judge Poliquin, who writes in his own decision that conditional discharges have already constituted the sentence given for cases of sexual assault. But in all of the cases he cites, sexual assault was the only charge the offender faced, the Court of Appeal said.
As for the fact that “the attack took place after all quickly”, as judge Poliquin estimated, the Court of Appeal considers that what is described “is not fast”. The accused also took photos of the victim in the kitchen, in a second place. However, writes the Court, “the relentlessness of Mr. Houle does not appear in the list of aggravating factors considered by the judge”.
Judge Poliquin’s errors had an impact on the determination of the sentence: they reduced the subjective seriousness of the offenses and the degree of responsibility of Simon Houle, ruling the highest court in Quebec by handing down the sentence deems appropriate, i.e. prison.