Blue Line

Defence asks court to reduce client’s sentence due to harsh jail conditions

January 19, 2021  By Canadian Press

Toronto – The lawyer for a man who admitted to earning money by putting a teenager to work in the sex trade said lockdowns at a Toronto jailwhere he’s spent most of the past yearalong with harsh conditions imposed by the pandemic should make a big dent in the ultimate sentence meted out.

Moses Gregory, 24, of Toronto, had earlier pleaded guilty to procuring sexual services, along with charges related to a police chase through Innisfil three years ago.

During a court appearance through a video feed from the Toronto South Detention Centre, where he has been held since Jan. 19, 2020, Gregory apologized to a “naive” teenager he put to work as an escort and those he has wronged.

”I hope to contribute some way to society and I want to be a proper father to my daughter,” he told the Ontario Superior Court in Barrie. “I hope one day you could forgive me for the damage I caused.”

Crown attorney Lynn Shirreffs was seeking a three-year sentence for the charge of procuring sexual services in addition to breaching a recognizance and probation, dangerous driving, and escape by flight.

South Simcoe police earlier indicated its criminal investigation bureau launched an investigation in January 2018 into human trafficking involving an 18-year-old woman, resulting in the procuring charge, which is related to the control of another person to engage in sexual acts to derive financial gain.

Gregory was also accused of fleeing from police the previous December when he narrowly missed running over an officer’s foot, court heard.

Much of Wednesday’s sentencing hearing focused on the credit Gregory would get for the time he spent in jail waiting for his day in court.

His lawyer, David Heath, argued just about all the time he’s spent in what has been described in the media as “Toronto’s worst jail,” which was also the subject of an Ontario Human Rights Commission report, should go against the ultimate sentence.

Gregory told the court there have been ongoing lockdowns at the jail due to the pandemic. He said he has had trouble accessing a phone to call his lawyer, hadn’t had a shower in three days, had been unable to have family visits for months, and was in segregation over Christmas from Dec. 9 to 27 because of a COVID outbreak.

“We should have the basic human contact,” he told the court.

Shirreffs said Gregory exploited the young woman to provide his only source of income at the time, wanting her to perform certain sexual acts against her wishes. She said he had a business, associates and a plan that he executed.

The woman is now struggling to survive and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, Shirreffs added.

Heath said Gregory did make some progress in jail and tried to upgrade his education, adding that whatever the judge’s determination, he would eventually be released from jail.

The lawyer said future risks could be reduced if his client could access programming.

“What can we do to assist with an inevitable reintroduction to the community?” Heath said is the question that should be asked.

Justice Susan Healey will deliver her sentence on Feb. 4.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.

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