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Digest: R. v. Blackmore


[2017] B.C.J. No. 193

British Columbia Supreme Court
P.J. Pearlman J.


February 3, 2017.
(213 paras.)


   Criminal law — Criminal Code offences — Offences against person and reputation — Kidnapping, hostage taking and abduction — Parents of MMB, age 13, convicted of removal from Canada for purpose of sexual offence — Accused were members of community of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at Bountiful, British Columbia — Accused received direction from Prophet and President of Church that MMB belonged to him as per directive from God — Priesthood and personal records kept by Church indicated MMB's marriage to President — Birth and education records established MMB's age and residence — Border services records established removal — Accused's knowledge of Church's teachings supported conclusion they knew removal was for sexual purpose — Criminal Code, ss. 153(1), 273.3, 273.3(1)(a), 273.3(1)(b).

   Trial of the accused, Brandon Blackmore, Gail Blackmore, and James Oler, for removal of a child from Canada for the purpose of a sexual offence. In 2004, the accused were members of a community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at Bountiful, British Columbia. Brandon and Gail were the natural parents of MMB, age 13. The Crown alleged that Brandon, assisted by Gail, removed MMB from Canada and transported her to the United States to facilitate her marriage to Jeffs, the Prophet and President of the accused's Church. In a separate count, the Crown alleged that Oler removed his daughter, CEO, age 15, from Bountiful to the United States to facilitate her marriage to another member of the Church. Neither child testified at trial. The Crown relied upon marriage, personal and priesthood records kept by the Church and seized by law enforcement personnel in Texas in 2008.

   HELD: Brandon and Gail were convicted; Oler was acquitted. Birth and education documents established that MMB was under the age of 14. As her parents, Gail and Brandon were aware of MMB's age. Education records and family members' evidence established MMB's ordinary residence in British Columbia. A priesthood record established that Jeffs directed Brandon to bring MMB to the United States on the basis the Lord had revealed she belonged to Jeffs. Border Services records confirmed Brandon and Gail leaving Canada within hours of receipt of the direction from Jeffs. MMB's marriage to Jeffs was recorded in priesthood and personal records kept by the Church. Gail and Brandon were recorded as witnesses to the marriage. It was implausible that MMB acted independently. Given the nature and content of the Church's teachings and literature, Brandon knew, or foresaw as a certainty, that sexual activity would occur between MMB and Jeffs as a consequence of the marriage. Liability was imputed to Gail as having aided Brandon in MMB's removal with the same foresight as Brandon, by virtue of her own knowledge as a married woman raised in the Church's community. The count with respect to Oler and CEO could not be proven due to an absence of border services record of Oler entering the United States, and insufficient evidence concerning CEO's location at relevant times. All other elements of the offence were otherwise established.