A defence lawyer is seeking just 10 to 12 years imprisonment for Ronald Teneycke, a man who could face an indefinite prison sentence if he is handed dangerous offender status.
The fate of Teneycke is now up to provincial Judge Richard Hewson, after defence lawyer Michael Welsh presented the defence’s closing arguments in Teneycke’s sentencing and dangerous offender hearing Tuesday morning.
Welsh’s submission for sentencing drew, at the time, a stifled laugh in court from Wayne Belleville, the victim of a gunshot to the back from Teneycke in his latest spree.
To Crown counsel Murray Kaay’s denunciation of Teneycke’s three-and-a-half-decade career in crime, Welsh responded with some of the efforts Teneycke has undertaken, particularly recently, to try to garner help with his mental health struggles.
Though Kaay argued that Teneycke did not avail himself of programs throughout his 35-plus years of experience with the law, Welsh noted there were efforts at one point to get into programming with the Penticton Indian Band, as Teneycke identifies as Metis.
“He took some Indigenous programming in points in the 1980s in prison, but has not really had the follow-up in the community,” Welsh said.
“Unfortunately, at one point he looked to try to get into some programs and sweat lodges with the local Indian band, was refused because of their concerns about his reputation.”
Welsh also pointed to Teneycke’s upbringing, with Teneycke facing abuse in his early years.
“It is certainly something, certainly a childhood … which reflects a lot of the things that were seeing as a result of systemic treatment of our Indigenous Peoples, in terms of a chaotic lifestyle he had as a child,” Welsh said.
“Right from the being fathered by an uncle, by his abuse, physical, sexual and psychological abuse all the time growing up, by the violence in the home that led to the suicide of his stepfather and murder of his sister.”
That violent upbringing, Welsh said, is in large part due to the loss of culture and systemic issues for Indigenous Peoples, something Welsh said is supported by findings of the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“That is really what has happened when you divorce our Indigenous Peoples from their practices, from their beliefs, and that has led to chaos in communities,” Welsh said.
Teneycke is facing a few major charges, including the robbery of a woman, the shooting of Belleville, stealing Belleville’s truck and fleeing from police.
Welsh argued if Teneycke is to dodge the Crown-sought dangerous offender status, which would allow for an indefinite prison sentence, Teneycke should face a global sentence of about half of the Crown’s call for 20-odd years.
That submission drew the ire of Belleville, who was in court throughout Teneycke’s dangerous offender hearings in the summer and this week. Following Tuesday’s hearing, Belleville lamented the lengthy legal processes to even getting to a dangerous offender hearing.
“I think the justice system has failed the community at large with regards to past sentencing, and that it should never have even gotten to this point,” Belleville told reporters at Penticton’s courthouse.
“Ten, 12 years an aggregate — that’s easy to say when it’s not you,” Belleville said. “I think that the sentence should approximate the severity. These guys try to isolate things, and you have to look at his whole criminal history.”
Belleville also took aim at the defence’s claim that Teneycke may be less dangerous as he battles with various ailments, saying “he had all of those things when he shot me.”
“He actually looks healthier now than he did. He looked like a frail guy,” Belleville said. “I don’t buy the fact that he’s less dangerous now because he suffers from gout and depression.”