Calling it one of the most horrid cases of child sexual abuse he had ever seen or heard as a judge, Justice William Goodridge convicted Chris Snow on 12 charges in Newfoundland Supreme Court Monday afternoon, and opted — despite the defence lawyer’s request — to put Snow behind bars right away.
Snow, 68, was taken into custody in St. John’s to await sentencing for the repeated sexual abuse of five children — boys and girls — in the 1960s and ’70s.
Known to many in the St. John’s area as the man with the Christmas truck, since he drives a pickup decorated with boughs and coloured lights and blaring music, Snow leaned his elbow on the edge of the dock and showed no expression as Goodridge announced his convictions.
Court hears testimony about years of child sexual abuse
Behind him on one side was his wife; behind him on the other were the children he assaulted, now grown, holding hands between two rows of wooden benches in the courtroom. They watched stoically as sheriff’s officers put handcuffs on Snow’s wrists and led him out of the room.
Outside the courthouse, they were jubilant.
“I’m just so happy,” one woman said. “I can’t do anything about the past, but I can do something about the future. Justice has prevailed.”
“We have our power back,” added one of the other women.
“I’m glad he’s gone, that justice has been served, and kids are safe,” said one of the men.
Snow repeatedly snuck into the complainants’ bedrooms at night between 1965 and 1976, starting when he was 18. His youngest victim was six. Snow fondled the children in their beds while also fondling himself, and would sometimes leave them money. He tried to force the boys’ mouths and hands onto his genitals, and attempted to anally penetrate one of them a number of times, starting when the boy was nine. The abuse happened on a near-daily basis.
In one incident, Snow locked one of the boys in a closet until he agreed to his demands.
Snow’s lawyer, Jason Edwards, pointed to the fact that two of the women had testified to having memory problems, with one saying she had remembered details of what Snow did to her through flashbacks as an adult.
Goodridge said Monday this didn’t affect his view of the reliability of the evidence.
“Her memories may have been pushed to the back of her mind, but they were never forgotten,” he said.
Snow was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault, with Goodridge explaining there were inconsistencies with the timeline as remembered by the complainants, requiring him to dismiss the charges.
“I have no doubt of the reliability of the evidence,” Goodridge said for each of the convictions.
Goodridge addressed Snow directly, saying he had created a “nightmare” for his victims.
“You were obviously, at that time in your life, a sexual predator,” Goodridge said, adding the case was “tragic, one of the most horrid I’ve seen or heard as a judge.”
Goodridge thanked the complainants for coming forward.
The complainants’ decision to bring the matter to the police came about, one of the women told The Telegram, after they had seen a TV media report last year on Snow and his Christmas truck.
Snow, who is a father and a grandfather, has worked for the past number of years as a handyman and independent garbage collector. His son, David Snow, 35, is also facing child sexual abuse charges, in unrelated incidents said to have happened between 2011 and 2015. David Snow has been charged with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference, three counts of exposing his genitals to a child under 16, 10 counts of observing a person for a sexual purpose and one count each of making child pornography and possessing child pornography. David Snow, who has not been convicted, is also in custody, and his case is making its way through the court system.
Chris Snow’s case will be called again in Newfoundland Supreme Court on Dec. 13 for a sentencing hearing. Crown prosecutor Tannis King is expected to present impact statements from the victims at that time.