A Vernon lawyer will be behind bars longer than expected.
The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled Monday that William Mastop’s jail sentence should be extended from one year to two-and-a-half years.
“The trial judge erred by focusing on the lack of evidence of direct consequences flowing from the respondent’s actions, rather than focusing on the respondent’s intention and the egregious nature of his actions,” states the Court of Appeal decision.
Mastop pleaded guilty earlier this year to participating in the activities of a criminal organization, commonly known as the Greeks, in Vernon.
However, Crown counsel initiated an appeal, saying the judge erred by focusing on the lack of evidence directly linking Mastop’s actions with the criminal organization’s operations.
According to the B.C. Court of Appeal, the proof of consequences is not an element of the offence and should not have been used to mitigate the sentence.
“The Crown is not required to prove the accused’s participation actually had the result of enhancing the criminal organization’s ability to commit an indictable offence. The focus of the offence is on criminalizing conduct that is objectively capable of materially enhancing an organization’s criminality,” stated the Court of Appeal.
“The respondent acted as an on-call lawyer for a violent criminal organization. He used his position to obtain information, track down members, and report on police activity over a significant period of time.”
Crown counsel welcomes the Court of Appeal decision.
“The outcome is consistent with the range of sentence Crown was seeking with the appeal and consistent with the range of sentence Crown was seeking with the original case,” said Neil MacKenzie, with the Criminal Justice Branch.
Mastop entered a guilty plea in December 2012 to participating in the activities of a North Okanagan criminal organization. He was arrested in January 2010 in Lake Country.
It’s believed Mastop is the first lawyer in Canada charged with participating in the activities of a criminal organization.
Legal counsel for Mastop could not be reached for comment.