Misunderstanding in facts leads to delay in sex offenders sentencing

Rosie Mullaley
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A misunderstanding between the judge and lawyers interrupted the sentencing hearing for a sex offender today in Newfoundland Supreme Court.
Thomas Leonard Molloy of St. John's - who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young girl in the late 1990s - was supposed to have been sentenced this afternoon, but lawyers asked for a postponement after Justice James Adams commented on the facts of the case earlier in the day.
As Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten was making his final arguments on sentencing, he referenced one of the acts Molloy was supposed to have been convicted of - performing anal sex on the girl.
However, Adams corrected Patten to say it was "attempted anal sex," meaning there had been no penetration.
Patten paused, but continued, saying "attempted anal intercourse" from then on.
However, Patten and defence lawyer Mike King discussed the issue during the lunch break.
When they returned in the afternoon, they told the judge that based on the reasons he gave for conviction in November, they were of the understanding that he had accepted the fact there had been anal intercourse.
The change in that fact could affect lawyers' arguments, as well as the range of sentence they request.
King had recommended a three-year jail term for Molloy, while Patten had requested a sentence of up to five years.
"I tailored my submission on that …," King told Adams. "Now, I will need time to revisit the case law and may have to change my submission."
"I was also under that impression," Patten added.
Adams apologized to the lawyers and the families of Molloy and the victim, who was in court, for the misunderstanding.
The case was postponed until Feb. 24 to allow lawyers time to review case law and give them the opportunity to present new arguments.
Molloy was convicted of six sexual offences -two counts each of sexually assaulting the girl, touching her for a sexual purpose and inviting her to touch him for a sexual purpose.
The abuse took place in two different outport communities from 1996 to 1998 when the girl was between the ages of eight and 10.
In order to protect her identity, her name and the locations of the incidents are banned from publication.

Geographic location: St. John's

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