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Dad Sentenced for Caring for Child

June 12, 2012 permalink

Newfoundland father Shannon William Benoit has been sentenced for taking his own child from foster care.



Man gets house arrest for taking son from foster home

It’s not often that a Crown attorney urges leniency in sentencing, but that was the case when Shannon William Benoit went before the judge to find out what would happen to him Monday.

In the end, Benoit was given seven months of house arrest for forcible confinement and two breaches of court orders.

The charges stem from an incident in November 2010, which involved Benoit and his partner, Jessica Bailey, taking their own child after a scheduled visit with the foster parent who had custody of the infant.

The couple had no legal authority to take the child at the time, but left with their son in a taxi and drove back to Corner Brook from the foster home in Benoit’s Cove.

Bailey, who was found to have had a knife in her jacket when arrested by the police upon their subsequent return to Corner Brook, has already served an eight-month prison sentence for unlawful confinement and carrying a concealed weapon.

In provincial court Monday, it was Benoit’s turn to be sentenced.

Crown attorney Mike Fox said that, while the offences and Benoit’s criminal record — mostly thefts and drug offences, seemed to call for jail time in an institution, that may not be in the best interests of him and his family. Fox said Benoit is on a “lifelong journey of rehabilitation” and putting him in jail would not help him.

He told the court that the motivation for Benoit agreeing with Bailey’s decision to take their child was essentially their attempt to get the attention of Child, Youth and Family Services as the couple had become frustrated in their dealings with the agency.

Fox said there was never any threat to the foster parent and, in fact, the couple told the foster parent where they were going with their son.

Fox told Judge Catherine Allen-Westby that Benoit would not constitute a risk to the community if he was to serve his sentence under house arrest.

Defence lawyer Brian Dunphy thanked Fox for his understanding of this case and for making a reasonable submission on sentencing. Dunphy endorsed Fox’s suggestion as a joint submission, telling the judge that his client may have made a poor decision but has taken responsibility for his offences.

Benoit said as much when asked if he had anything to say before being sentenced.

“I know what I did that day was wrong,” he told Allen-Westby.

In agreeing to accept the joint submission, which included 12 months of probation, Allen-Westby told Benoit that she hoped this sentencing marked a turning point in his life.

Source: Western Star