Donnie Snook sentenced to 3 months for N.L. sex crimes

Donnie Snook in a Corner Brook courtroom on Aug. 20, 2013 (CBC)

Donnie Snook, former Saint John councillor and youth ministry leader, has been sentenced in provincial court in Saint John to three months for sex-related charges in his native Newfoundland and Labrador in addition to the 18 years he received in October for sex crimes against children in New Brunswick.

On Nov. 28, Snook, 41, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference.

He admitted to assaulting a boy under the age of 14 while he was a pastor with the now-defunct Salvation Army church in Mount Moriah in the mid-1990s.

In October, Snook was sentenced to 18 years after pleading guilty to 46 sex crimes against children in New Brunswick including sexual assault, making child pornography and extortion.

The crimes occurred over 12 years and involved 17 male victims, some as young as five years old.

In court Tuesday, the judge granted Crown Prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock's request that the guilty plea on one of the four charges be withdrawn. She said that when she reviewed the facts, the victim was over the age of 14 at the time of the second incident.

Lamrock recommended a sentence of one year on each of the remaining three charges to run concurrent to each other.

In his statement following his arrest in Jan. 2013, Snook said he had taken the victim and other boys camping and he woke up one night to find the victim performing oral sex. He said he kept his eyes closed, pretending he was asleep.

The victim said Snook also guided him to sit on top of him and attempted anal penetration, but it was not successful.

The victim told police the trip was their second encounter. He said the first took place at Snook's home where he, Snook and two other boys were watching a movie. The victim said Snook put a blanket over them and pretended to fall asleep. He then guided the victim's hand to his penis so the boy could masturbate him.

Defence lawyer Dennis Boyle said Snook pretended to be asleep during the incident. Apart from attempted sodomy, his participation was minimal.

Dennis Boyle asked the court that the sentence related to the Newfoundland charges be served concurrent to the New Brunswick sentence.

"What I have already shared with you would again apply today. I express sorrow for things that I have done and I sincerely wish that I could go back and get help I needed. I know I have to take full responsibility. I am overwhelmed with a deep sadness," said Snook.

"I hope that by saying I'm sorry it might help those I have hurt."

Snook filed a notice of appeal relating to the New Brunswick sentence with the provincial Court of Appeal in Fredericton in November.

His 18-year sentence was knocked down to 16 years and 10 months as credit for his time in custody.

Snook will be eligible for parole after serving less than six years.

In the two-page document, the sentence was called "unreasonable and in excess of the appropriate range in all the circumstances."

Boyle, who had recommended a 12-year sentence, had previously called the sentence, "appropriate, and accurate and just."

Lamrock said 18 years is one of the longest sentences awarded in Canada for such a case. She had asked the court to consider a sentence of 21 years in prison, with no eligibility for parole until Snook had served at least half of his sentence or 10 years, whichever was less.

Snook is still facing a forfeiture hearing on Jan. 8. The Crown wants to forfeit seized items connected to his crimes, including his house, SUV, camper trailer and computer equipment.