Repeat sex offender Bobby Zoe was designated a long-term offender Wednesday after successfully appealing a dangerous offender designation from 2017.

Over the last 10 years, Zoe has spent all but approximately nine months in custody. Significant stretches of that incarceration have been spent in solitary confinement for his “significant history of violence towards women and girls,” according to court documents outlining Judge Donovan Molloy’s ruling.

Yellowknife, NT – Feb. 22, 2016 – Bobby Zoe leaves the Yellowknife court house. Walter Strong/NNSL photo

Molloy has decided that Zoe will spend the next 10 years under the supervision of Corrections Canada.

Zoe has been convicted of a number of sexual crimes, including a 2015 break-in at a Yellowknife residence where a sleeping woman woke to Zoe touching her over her clothes. She opened her eyes to a man, Zoe, standing over the bed with a finger pressed to his lips to indicate she should keep quiet.

She screamed and woke her sleeping partner, who chased Zoe out of the house after a short struggle. Cash previously in the man’s wallet was noticed to be missing after the incident, along with some beers from the couple’s fridge.

Zoe was on probation at the time.

Other previous offences include sexual assaults on strangers in the street, as well as one case where Zoe, along with two others, were drinking with a 13-year-old girl who passed out and woke up to Zoe touching her inappropriately over her clothes.

In 2017, Zoe, born in Yellowknife and raised in Gameti, was deemed a dangerous offender – a designation given to offenders who represent an ongoing threat to community members.

In January 2020, a panel of three judges accepted Zoe’s appeal and ordered his case to be reheard in Territorial Court.

The panel ruled that the sentencing judge had failed to properly consider Zoe’s treatment prospects before designating him a dangerous offender.

In considering Crown and defence lawyers’ joint recommendation to designate Zoe a long-term offender – an order to place an offender under supervision of Corrections Canada for up to 10 years – Molloy raises the question of what the Crown perceives to have changed since Zoe’s dangerous offender designation that would have changed their argument to have him instead classified as a long-term offender.

One factor is a new psychiatric report that demonstrates Zoe is now compliant with medication regimes and “has finally acknowledged the role that substance abuse played in his criminal history and has expressed an openness to treatment.”

Molloy also notes an updated pre-sentence report that shows fresh evidence of Gladue factors, which pertain to socio-economic disadvantages that confront many Indigenous offenders.

Repeat sex offender Bobby Zoe was designated a long term offender and will spend the next 10 years under supervision of Corrections Canada. NNSL file photo.

“The parties now maintain, and I agree,” Molloy stated, “that had the Gladue report been available at the original sentencing hearing, Mr. Zoe may not have been designated as a dangerous offender.”

Molloy agreed to the terms of the joint submission ordering Zoe to 10 years of long-term supervision, a DNA order, a 10-year firearm prohibition, and a lifetime listing under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA).

The judge recognized that the decision places “a great deal of faith in the Correctional Service of Canada.”

“An absence of adequate intensive supervision leaves the female public at an unacceptable risk of sexual violence from Mr. Zoe,” Molloy said.

Given Zoe’s “cognitive deficits, his cultural needs and the lack of services in Yellowknife, it will be a challenge to craft a plan that meaningfully addresses his risk and his treatment requirements,” Molloy states in his decision.

Where Zoe will live after his release from prison will also be determined by Corrections Canada. Though, “with the relative lack of services in Yellowknife and its ‘triggers’ that contribute to Mr. Zoe’s offending,” Molloy said, “it is difficult to imagine that he will be able to return to the Northwest Territories for some considerable period of time.”

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