June 17th, 2024

Sexual offender sentenced after sneaking across border

By Delon Shurtz on July 14, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta man who tried to sneak into the U. S. by hiking across the bald prairie not far from the Coutts border, has been sentenced to 15 months in jail.
Pedro Reimer wasn’t sentenced for his failed attempt to unlawfully enter the U.S., however, but for breaching two conditions of a previous court order; one that had placed him under house arrest at a residence in Carmangay, and the other that prohibited him from leaving Alberta.
Reimer pleaded guilty to the two counts of breaching conditions of a recognizance, and was sentenced Monday in Lethbridge provincial court.
Crown Prosecutor Dawn Janecke, who recommended Reimer receive a provincial sentence of two years less a day, told Judge Gregory Maxwell that Reimer tried to flee to Mexico in May to avoid going to prison for charges of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching against a 13-year-old girl three years ago.
Reimer stood trial on that matter last April in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, and was found guilty by a jury, but sentencing was adjourned until June when he was sentenced to six years in a federal penitentiary. The crown opposed a defence request that Reimer remain out of custody on bail while he waited to be sentenced, and warned court the offender might attempt to flee to Mexico where his family lives.
Defence argued Reimer needed time to get his affairs in order before he was sentenced, and Justice David Labrenz, while sharing the Crown’s concerns, agreed to allow Reimer to remain on bail but with conditions intended to prevent him from fleeing.
On May 5, however, Reimer was caught after he illegally crossed the border in the middle of the prairie west of Coutts. Border officers caught up with him as he was heading toward the highway near Sweetgrass, directly south of Coutts on the U.S. side of the border.
Reimer had a temporary driver’s licence, $1,000 cash and court documents with his release conditions. He told officers a cousin had dropped him off near Coutts and he was to meet his father in Shelby, Mont. before heading to Mexico. He changed his story at one point, and said he had actually been dropped off north of Coutts by someone named Willie Nelson from Lethbridge.
Border officials confirmed that Reimer’s father, Peter, had earlier crossed into Texas from Mexico and was on his way to pick up his son.
Janecke said Monday Reimer planned with his father to flee from Canada to avoid going to prison. She said Reimer weighed the risk of being caught crossing the border against the reward of avoiding prison, and chose to flee. Janecke said a custodial sentence for that decision must be lengthy enough to denounce the offence and deter others in similar circumstances from making the same decision. A lesser sentence, she suggested, will send a message that fleeing is worth the risk.
Lethbridge lawyer Greg White asked the judge to sentence Reimer to no more than six months in jail for the breaches, and suggested even 62 days to reflect time he served since his arrest would be appropriate.
White said Reimer, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to Canada when he was 20 years old, is remorseful, and pleaded guilty to the breach charges relatively early in the court process. The plan to flee to Mexico, White added, wasn’t Reimer’s idea.
“He was persuaded by a family member to attempt this,” White said. “Now, he has to think for himself, but he’d been advised what he was looking at and he told me that, for whatever reason, he got really stupid and decided to try this.”
Judge Maxwell agreed with the Crown and said Reimer deserves a denunciatory sentence for deliberately attempting to avoid an anticipated, lengthy custodial sentence. Maxwell did, however, give Reimer credit for the 62 days he spent in pre-trial custody, leaving 13 months to be served. The sentence will run consecutive to the sentence Reimer received for the sex offences against the young girl.

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