“The use of a loaded firearm changes everything.”
Those are the words Judge Wayne Gorman used in the opening of his written decision on the sentencing of Tanner Healey.
The 23-year-old Deer Lake man was sentenced to five years in jail for his part in a home invasion in Reidville last October. He pleaded guilty to robbery, break and enter and being disguised with intent.
Gorman presented his overall decision during an appearance in provincial court in Corner Brook Wednesday afternoon. Healey, who has been in custody since his arrest, appeared via videoconference.
Gorman’s reasons for that sentence are contained in the written decision that was released after the appearance.
As he indicated during Healey’s sentencing hearing last week, Gorman said in the decision that he did consider giving him more time and he felt seven years was an appropriate sentence because of the seriousness of the crimes.
Despite that he decided on the five years, solely because it is the same sentence imposed on Ricky Halfyard, 29, one of three co-accused in the case, on April 5 by another provincial court judge.
On Oct. 8, Healey and Halfyard entered a home in Reidville with the intent to rob one of the residents. The man owed Halfyard money for drugs.
Halfyard was carring a loaded shotgun and Healey a replica handgun.
Gorman said the use of a loaded firearm during the commission of a criminal offence significantly increases the likelihood of someone being seriously harmed or killed.
He said the when a loaded firearm is used during the commission of a criminal offence, the offender’s degree of moral culpability is significantly increased.
“The sentences imposed for such offences must reflect the potential harm which can result, even if no one is harmed,” said Gorman.
“The person who wields the weapon has committed a crime of the utmost seriousness. Anyone participating in such a robbery, if they know that a loaded firearm is going to be used, is in my view at a comparable level of moral culpability,” he said.
Healey knew the gun was loaded and though a distinction can be drawn between the person handling the loaded firearm and those assisting, Gorman said the distinction should not in his view be significant for the purpose of sentencing if the person without the firearm knows that her or his co-accused is going to wield a loaded firearm.
Healey has been in custody for 198 days and his sentence will be reduced by 297 days to reflect a credit of 1.5 days for each day served.
Gorman also imposed a DNA order and a lifetime weapons and ammunition prohibition on him. He also has to pay a victim fine surcharge totalling $600 to the court.
Jared Healey, 21, and Dylan Ryan, 20, the other two co-accuseds in the case are still before the court.
Jared Healey has a sentencing hearing set for June 7 on a charge of break and entry with intent to commit an offence. Ryan has elected to be tried by a judge in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador and has a preliminary inquiry scheduled for July 6 in provincial court.