Justice served? Activist Raymond Taavel’s killer sentenced to 8 years

With all the focus on the the acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi in a Toronto courtroom today, another courtroom decision is being largely overlooked — and may barely get a mention in national news broadcasts today.

A man, Andre Noel Denny, was sentenced in a Nova Scotia court to 8 years in the death of a prominent gay rights activist, Raymond Taavel.

But as the CBC reports: “After spending nearly four years in custody following his arrest, and receiving one-and-half times credit for it, Denny has a little under two years left to serve.”

In other words, he will serve fewer than 6 years for killing Taavel.

Because Denny has mental problems, he will serve his time in a hospital for people with mental issues, and will spend an additional three years there on probation.

Denny had originally been charged with second-degree murder for the brutal beating — for no apparent reason — of Taavel, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter.

The incident happened after Denny went AWOL from aforementioned hospital and had consumed alcohol and crack cocaine.

Has justice been served in this case?

Probably not.

Let’s all remember Raymond Taavel today, and honour him in our ways for his work on behalf of LGBTQ people.

May he rest in peace.

— Jillian Page


2 thoughts on “Justice served? Activist Raymond Taavel’s killer sentenced to 8 years”

  1. Cases like this are difficult situations to assess. The offender clearly has major mental health issues which no doubt played a role in these events. Since his actions resulted in a cruel, violent and senseless death, the instinct is to insist on a life sentence, lock him up and throw away the key.

    His past history, as well as his actions on the night in question speak to a person who has significant impulse control problems resulting from his mental illness. A quick review of the case itself, the accused pleaded guilty to Manslaughter, and the sentence falls within the guidelines for that charge. The judge has ordered him to serve his time in psychiatric treatment, including probation time.

    That is, at best, small consolation for the family of the deceased.

    The bigger question that needs to be addressed here is what to do with a repeat offender who is also suffering from a significant mental illness? Should the Crown apply for a “dangerous offender” declaration, and can that declaration be used to detain the offender in long term treatment?

    The problem I have with simply locking someone like this up in jail is that he is as much a victim of his illness as those who he has attacked and killed. Prison doesn’t seem like a satisfactory solution, but there are clearly limits to the extent which treatment is effective with this person too. A case like this makes it all too clear that our “crime-and-punishment” model of justice is deeply flawed when dealing with someone like this.


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