May 21st, 2024

Carjacker could be facing up to 17 years in prison


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 30, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 42-year-old man found guilty earlier this year of several criminal offences, including kidnapping and robbery, could be sent to prison for up to 17 years if the judge accepts a recommendation by the Crown.
The Crown recommended Monday in Lethbridge provincial court that Cory Ray Williams be sent to a federal penitentiary for 14 to 17 years for a violent car jacking and a closely related string of offences in October 2019.
Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette, on the other hand, told Judge Gregory Maxwell that an appropriate sentence would be between seven and 10 years, and even though there is no question about how serious the offences are, Williams’ personal circumstances and impact of a traumatic childhood warrant a lower sentence.
“The range suggested by the Crown is excessive,” Ouellette said.
Following his trial in May, Williams was found guilty of kidnapping, assault with a weapon, flight from a police officer, dangerous operation of a vehicle, threats to cause death/bodily harm, robbery, housebreaking to commit theft, and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.
The judge dismissed additional charges of attempted kidnapping, assault with a weapon, attempted robbery, and failing to comply with a probation order, in relation to unrelated allegations around the same time.
On Oct. 20, 2019 Williams approached a vehicle in a northside parking lot and held a machete to the driver’s throat. He then forced the driver, Wesley McNeil, to withdraw cash from his bank and drive him to the Blood Reserve.
During the drive, Williams kicked McNeil out of the car and sped away, almost hitting McNeil. Williams returned, however, and began chasing another vehicle that had picked up McNeil while he walked along the highway. McNeil had barely flagged the vehicle down when Williams returned and began chasing the vehicle, with McNeil standing on the vehicle’s step bar and precariously “clinging for his life.”
Campbell said McNeil’s victim impact statement signed shortly after the incident indicates how traumatized he felt during the incident. She suggested Monday he likely still feels the effects more than two years later.
“He still suffers from ongoing psychological trauma from the event,” she said.
As Williams chased the vehicle through the Blood Reserve, RCMP intercepted him and began chasing him toward Fort Macleod where they eventually lost him. The vehicle was later found abandoned in the town, and police subsequently received a report of a residential break-in and theft of a minivan. The minivan was found 24 hours later abandoned in Lethbridge.
Campbell reminded the judge of the gravity of the offences, and said Williams’ moral blameworthiness is high and must be strongly denounced and deterred, particularly given the violent nature of the incidents and the risk to others.
Ouellette agreed with the Crown’s assessment of the gravity of the offences, but suggested Williams’ tragic upbringing which led to his crimes must be considered in sentencing.
“I recognize the fact that, individually, these are serious offences; there’s no question about that,” Ouellette said.
Ouellete pointed out Williams’ parents and grandparents attended residential schools, and while growing up he was abused and subject to substance abuse, the effects of which contributed to his offences.
“You cannot isolate his past from his present actions,” Ouellette suggested.
He added Williams has already spent two years in custody waiting for his matter to be resolved, and deserves enhanced credit for that time, especially since it was spent during the challenging COVID pandemic.
At the conclusion of Monday’s sentencing hearing, Maxwell said he needs more time to consider Crown and defence submissions, and he adjourned his decision until Dec. 13.

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