On March 19, 2021, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in response to the appeal of Luanne Taillefer.
On June 13, 2019, Justice John R. McCarthy of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario convicted Ms. Taillefer of Fraud Over $5,000. Sentencing was imposed on January 17, 2020. As is often the case in Canada, neither decision was published, meaning Canadians were not given notice by our Courts of the conviction and sentence.
Ms. Taillefer was sentenced to a term of 18 months’ imprisonment followed by 18 months’ probation. The fraud that she was convicted of is often referred to as an elder fraud case. Ms. Taillefer stole funds from her elderly father. She elected to be tried by a jury.
At issue at the trial was whether the Crown should have been required to produce expert evidence with respect to handwriting on the cheques which were allegedly forged by Ms Taillefer. The Crown argued that an expert witness was not required, and that the jury could use their own common sense to determine guilt or innocence.
The Court of Appeal agreed, stating that this was a short trial and the evidence was not complex. The question for the jury was, in essence, whether the appellant had permission to spend her father’s money as she did. It was held that the jury was adequately equipped to understand its task.
The Crown sought a penitentiary sentence of three years, while the defence suggested a custodial sentence of 12-18 months. The sentencing judge considered the aggravating factors, which were extensive and included breach of the appellant’s fiduciary obligations to her father and the significant impact of breach on her father and brother, as well as her lack of remorse and failure to make restitution. He found few mitigating factors.
The bottom line is that the sentence of 18 months jail followed by 18 months probation was upheld on appeal.
The decision was reported at: R. v. Taillefer, 2021 ONCA 17