Sask. court upholds jail sentence for man who threatened former girlfriend on Facebook

Sask. court upholds jail sentence for man who threatened former girlfriend on Facebook

A Saskatchewan man who threatened on Facebook to choke and shoot his former girlfriend has lost an attempt to appeal his conviction and jail sentence.

In 2013, Christopher Donald Hirsch wrote on Facebook that he would choke his former girlfriend of eight years and "end it with a shotgun shell," court documents say.

The comments were accompanied by a nude photograph of the woman.

Hirsch, 39, was charged with knowingly uttering threats to cause bodily harm.

A trial judge in provincial court in Estevan, Sask., later found him guilty of the offence and he was sentenced to six months incarceration, followed by 12 months probation.

Hirsch filed an appeal, which was heard in December last year, saying the trial judge had erred in three ways.

Appeal questions screen captures as evidence

First, Hirsch said the judge had relied on documentary evidence that had not been authenticated. This claim related to screen captures of the Facebook post in question.  

Second, he said the judge was wrong in concluding that the trial court had jurisdiction over the offence, saying the Crown had failed to prove the offence was committed in Saskatchewan.

Lastly, Hirsch claimed there was insufficient evidence to establish the date or time of the offence, and that the evidence did not prove the words used in the Facebook post were a threat to be taken seriously.

But the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan in Regina dismissed the appeal on Feb. 24. 

It agreed that the screen captures were permissible as evidence, and that the link between the offence and Saskatchewan was sufficient for the court to assume jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeal also concluded the trial judge was correct in ruling that Hirsch's comments were intended as threats.