Convicted sex offender Bobby Zoe has won an appeal of his indeterminate prison sentence.
According to a decision filed in the Court of Appeal of the Northwest Territories, Jan. 31, a panel of three judges upheld the 38 year old’s convictions for break and enter, theft and sexual assault.
The appeals panel of justices Paul Bychok, Ritu Khullar and Dawn Pentelechuk agreed that sentencing judge deputy Justice J. Richard McIntosh committed two errors of law, namely: that he failed to consider Zoe’s treatment prospects before designating him a dangerous offender, and “applying the presumption of an indeterminate sentence at the second stage.”
The second stage refers to the two-part test a judge must consider when weighing a dangerous offender designation: first, whether to apply the designation according to definitions found in the Criminal Code, and second, to determine how long the prison sentence should be.
The judges declared Zoe’s sentence quashed and sent his case back to NWT territorial court for a new sentencing hearing.
Zoe, born in Yellowknife and raised in Gameti, was convicted of breaking into a Yellowknife residence, stealing cash and other items and sexually assaulting a woman in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2015. He was convicted about a year later and sentenced on Dec. 8, 2017.
It was his fourth sexual assault conviction.
In 2005, he was convicted of a sexual assault in Yellowknife, receiving a suspended sentence and six months probation. Convicted later of a 2009 sexual interference charge involving an underage victim, he was handed a 15-month jail term.
In 2012, he was sentenced for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman, a stranger to him, who was walking alone in downtown Yellowknife in 2011. Zoe had just recently been released from jail for the sexual interference conviction.
By the time of the 2015 sexual assault, he was on probation for another incident where he had broken into a Yellowknife home in 2013, as a couple and their two teenage daughters slept. He was sentenced in February 2014 to 21 months in jail.
The 2015 sexual assault stemmed from another break-in. Zoe snuck into an apartment bedroom, where a man and woman were sleeping. The woman, who was unknown to Zoe, woke up to him touching her.
She screamed, alerting her partner. The man chased Zoe into a stairwell, where the two struggled. He then managed to escape with money stolen from the apartment.
The incident shocked the capital, causing the RCMP changed its policy on released offenders convicted of serious crimes to warn the public when they deem the person is at risk to re-offend.
The February 2015 attack led to a conviction and in 2017, judge McIntosh declared Zoe a dangerous offender to be imprisoned indefinitely.
Zoe’s lawyer Jennifer Cunningham appealed the 2017 sentence last October, Zoe also appealed his conviction in the 2015 case but the three-judge appeal panel declined to overrule it.
With the 2017 dangerous offender designation now quashed, sentencing has now been sent back to territorial court for a new hearing.
“The conviction appeal is dismissed,” the appeal court’s judgement reads. “The sentence appeal is granted.”