A Kamloops man ensnared by online vigilantes after arranging to meet a fictitious 12-year-old girl he hoped to impregnate is challenging a mandatory minimum six-month jail sentence for those convicted of child luring, arguing the jail time amounts to “cruel and unusual” punishment.
Doug Fawcett, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of using telecommunications to lure a child and is in court this week as lawyers argue the constitutionality of the prison sentence.
Fawcett was busted by a Kelowna-based online vigilante group called Creep Catchers. An adult woman affiliated with the group created an account on a dating app posing as a 12-year-old girl.
Fawcett began communicating with the account on Christmas Day in 2016 and the conversations quickly became sexual.
The woman posing as the young girl was repeatedly clear about her supposed age, Crown told court, and Fawcett understood what he was doing was wrong.
On Feb. 3, 2017, Creep Catchers staged a meeting with Fawcett, who thought he would be meeting face-to-face with the 12-year-old girl. Instead, he was confronted by Creep Catchers members, who filmed the interaction outside a downtown Kamloops coffee shop and posted video on YouTube.
Creep Catchers informed police following the meeting with Fawcett and handed over its chat logs three weeks later.
Crown prosecutor Rome Carot said the messages paint a troubling picture.
“They do show a disturbing fact pattern,” he said. “You clearly have Mr. Fawcett obsessed with who he believes to be a 12-year-old girl. But that cuts both ways. … The Crown does concede you are dealing with someone with severe disabilities.”
A court-ordered psychological report prepared ahead of Fawcett’s sentencing was the subject of arguments in court.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Nalini Joneja took the witness stand on Tuesday, taking questions about the report she authored following an interview with Fawcett last summer.
In the report, Joneja described Fawcett as “psychologically naive and lacking insight.” Joneja described him in court as socially isolated.
“We’re dealing with a low-functioning individual,” Carot said. “However, when you review all these text messages, it is disturbing to think Mr. Fawcett actually thought he was in a relationship with this 12-year-old. He wanted to marry this 12-year-old and wanted to get her pregnant. … He poses a risk.”
The hearing, in front of Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame, is slated to conclude on Tuesday, though a decision is not expected until a later date.
If Fawcett is successful, Frame’s ruling would be the latest in a series of court decisions striking down tough-on-crime provisions put in place by Stephen Harper’s former Conservative government.
Following a hearing last May, the Supreme Court of Canada has reserved its decision on mandatory minimum sentencing for online luring.