ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland and Labrador Crown prosecutor is asking that a police officer convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman in her home in 2014 be sentenced to five years in prison.
Lloyd Strickland argued Wednesday that the breach of trust committed by Const. Carl Douglas Snelgrove of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was a "stain on the entire administration of justice" and warranted a five-year sentence, as well as registration as a sexual offender for two decades, among other stipulations.
"The assault was a very significant violation of her sexual integrity," Strickland told provincial Supreme Court Wednesday, referring to the woman and her victim impact statement, which he read aloud. “It’s clear that she’s already in a prison of her own."
A jury convicted Snelgrove in May of sexually assaulting the woman in her living room after he gave her a ride home from outside a St. John's, N.L., nightclub in December 2014. She was 21 at the time.
Defence lawyer Randy Piercey asked for a sentence of between 18 months and two years, arguing the woman did not actively resist the sexual activity and Snelgrove did not plan to have sex with her when he offered her a ride.
The high-profile case was tried three times after a successful appeal and a subsequent mistrial, prompting protests and citywide demonstrations of support for the woman each time a new trial began. She testified at all three trials, and the court process added to her trauma, she said in her impact statement.
She wrote that she has trust and intimacy issues because of the assault, as well as depression, anxiety and a "major loss of security and trust." She tried to take her own life about a year after the assault, she wrote, and wound up in a mental health hospital in St. John's.
She still has night terrors and she jolts awake in a panic if she hears noise outside her window, her statement said. She said she moved away from St. John's as soon as she was able to.
"He robbed me of my sense of safety in my own home," she wrote, adding: "How can you have trust in anyone when you can’t even trust the police? Police are supposed to keep us safe from harm. What he did caused me so much harm.”
Snelgrove's wife, Diana Parsons, wrote a statement for the defence, which she read to the court.
"Doug Snelgrove is my husband, a man that I have known and loved for over 20 years," she began. The charges against him were a “complete and utter shock," Parsons said. "It felt like (they) were talking about someone else."
"I am not here before you today because I'm OK with what Doug did," she said. "His actions were inexcusable." She said what he did was morally wrong but she did not believe it was criminal.
She said Snelgrove had dedicated his life to service, including several years with the Canadian Armed Forces in Kosovo and in Edmonton before he joined the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. He witnessed death in Kosovo, and when four soldiers from his platoon were killed in Afghanistan while he was in Alberta, she said he worked tirelessly to help the grieving families.
“To this day he still cannot explain his behaviour on that night in December 2014 other than it being a complete lack of judgment," she said. "He knows how stupid it was, and there hasn't been a single day since that he has not regretted his actions.” She said that as a result of the trials and the media attention, Snelgrove has anxiety and depression and has been seeing a psychologist.
Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar ordered that Snelgrove be taken into custody until he delivers his sentencing decision on Nov. 12.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.
Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press