Published on February 15, 2013
The Manitoba Court of Appeal has increased the prison sentence of child-abusing hockey coach Graham James to five years from two. James is shown arriving at court for sentencing in Winnipeg on March 20, 2012. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Published on October 28, 2010
Graham James holds his award in Toronto, June 8, 1989 after being named The Hockey News man of the year. The Manitoba Appeals court has increased James' prison sentence from two years to five years. — Canadian Press file photo
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Court of Appeal has increased the prison sentence of child-abusing hockey coach Graham James to five years from two.
James was convicted last year of sexually abusing retired NHL star Theo Fleury and his younger cousin, Todd Holt, when they played for James in the junior ranks.
James was given two years behind bars, but the Crown argued the trial judge erred in her application of sentencing principles and put too much weight on the 3 1/2 years he received in 1997 for abusing other young players.
“The sentencing in this case was high-profile in nature, and it involved historical sexual assaults against two young victims who found the courage and will to come forward many years after the offences occurred,” Justice Alan MacInnes wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.
“The decision of the (trial) judge was thorough and thoughtful. Notwithstanding, I have concluded that she erred.”
At the appeal hearing, the Crown argued four years would have been a more appropriate sentence considering the nature of the offences.
James’s lawyer Evan Roitenberg argued the trial judge took into consideration the 15 years between his client’s first sentence in 1997 and his subsequent rehabilitation.
“This is a great day for all survivors,” Fleury said in a post on Twitter shortly after the Appeal Court decision was released.