Repeat sex offender's re-sentencing means 10 years supervision by Corrections Canada

·3 min read
An undated photo of Bobby Zoe being escorted into the Yellowknife courthouse. A judge has declared him a long-term offender, and a dangerous offender label was overturned by a court of appeal. (CBC - image credit)
An undated photo of Bobby Zoe being escorted into the Yellowknife courthouse. A judge has declared him a long-term offender, and a dangerous offender label was overturned by a court of appeal. (CBC - image credit)

A repeat sex offender from Gamètì, N.W.T., has been designated a long-term offender.

Judge Donovan Molloy's written sentencing decision for Bobby Zoe, released Wednesday, comes after the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal said another judge made errors in the initial sentencing in 2017.

Zoe, 40, has been convicted of four separate sex crimes.

The long-term offender designation means he will be supervised by the Correctional Service of Canada for 10 years after he gets out of jail. It places a "great deal of faith" in the corrections department, Molloy noted.

"A treatment plan that is not tailored to Mr. Zoe's particular circumstances also endangers the public, while setting up Mr. Zoe for failure," wrote Molloy.

He also sentenced Zoe to another 90 days behind bars because that's how long it'll take the correctional department to draft a long-term supervision plan. Zoe has been in custody since a sexual assault in February 2015.

Molloy noted Zoe has been behind bars for all but nine months in the past 10 years, and significant portions of that time have been spent in solitary confinement.

"Saying he is institutionalized is an understatement," he said.

Open to treatment

Molloy said there is a reasonable possibility the risk Zoe poses to the community can eventually be controlled.

"Mr. Zoe is now noted to be compliant with medication regimes, has finally acknowledged the role that substance abuse has played in his offence history and has expressed an openness to treatment."

Molloy also noted that if the Gladue report — a personal history submitted to courts on the behalf of Indigenous offenders — had been available at the initial sentencing, Zoe may not have been designated as a dangerous offender in the first place.

In December 2017, Deputy Judge J.R. McIntosh declared Zoe a dangerous offender and sentenced him to remain in prison until his risk of re-offending had been reduced to a manageable level.

The decision came after he was convicted of sexual assault. He broke into a Yellowknife apartment, sexually assaulted a woman who had been sleeping and fled with some money from the unit on February 15, 2015.

Zoe appealed both his conviction and the indeterminate prison sentence.

A panel of N.W.T. Court of Appeal judges upheld the conviction, but ordered him to be re-sentenced. They also noted the sentencing judge had said there was no residential school history in his adoptive family and that there was nothing to lower his blameworthiness in the offence.

"This was an impoverished approach to understanding and applying the Gladue factors," they said.

Violence towards women and girls

According to a 2019 Gladue report that came before the court, Zoe was adopted into a stable, loving family in Gamètì and later developed a relationship with his biological father when he started attending school in Behchokǫ̀ at the age of 16.

He was exposed to drinking and cannabis by his biological father and uncle, dropped out of school and began a transient lifestyle, the report said.

Molloy wrote in his sentencing that Zoe has a significant history of violence toward women and girls, has severe cognitive impairments, and has struggled with substance abuse for much, if not all, of his adult life.

Molloy also noted much of the programming that's been offered to Zoe has not been tailored to his cultural and intellectual needs.