"You'll get what's coming to you, you piece of s---!" a male relative of one of the children sexually assaulted by David Snow yelled at him from the gallery as he was being escorted out of a St. John’s courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Snow’s departure from the courtroom signified the end of court proceedings for the five young complainants and their families, who had been waiting since his arrest in September 2016 to see him taken away in handcuffs, destined for a federal prison.
While some of the girls and their families sat in the courtroom this week to see him convicted and sentenced, others stayed away — including one of the two girls Snow sexually assaulted and videoed as they slept. The court heard she doesn’t know what he did and she doesn’t want to know.
Snow, 36, pleaded guilty to 14 charges: two counts of sexual assault, sexual interference, two counts of indecent exposure, two counts of voyeurism, two counts of making child pornography, four counts of voyeurism for a sexual purpose, and possession of child pornography.
His girlfriend turned him in to police after finding SD cards and a jump drive hidden behind an electrical panel in their laundry room in February 2015. Knowing Snow was inclined to barricade himself in rooms with a computer, the woman popped the cards and jump drive into her computer. When she saw child pornography, she packed a bag and left, bringing the computer data to the RNC.
Police searched the home and seized a laptop, a video recorder and a tablet in addition to the items the woman had turned in, all containing images and videos of child pornography Snow had made.
Snow’s face was visible in a number of the videos, since the camera had caught him as he tried to set it up in a bathroom peephole he had created to catch children on the toilet, in the bath or in the shower.
There were plenty of those videos, too, violating the privacy of five girls in the bathrooms of three different homes.
There were also the sexual assault videos, which were among the files Snow had copied to another card as backup.
Snow tried to keep his head down so media cameras wouldn’t catch him, and he didn’t choose to address the court before his sentencing.
Justice David Hurley accepted a joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers for a seven-year sentence — along with a list of orders, including registration on the national sex offender list for life and orders to stay away from the victims, the internet, firearms, and places where children are expected to be — and gave Snow credit for the time he has spent in custody. With credit at an enhanced rate of 1 ½ days to every one, Snow has roughly 4 ½ years left to serve. He’ll be eligible for statutory release once he serves three years.
Hurley noted the aggravating factors of the case: the young ages of the complainants, which ranged from nine to 15 years at the time; the fact Snow’s “despicable acts,” according to the judge, were planned and deliberate and took advantage of the children in vulnerable situations; his criminal history (which does not include sexual offences); and the impact his crimes had on the girls.
Two of the girls told the court of having depression, eating disorders and anger. One wrote about crying in her sleep and fearing Snow would try to get into her house. The other spoke of feeling guilt because she blamed herself.
Hurley noted some mitigating factors in the case as well, saying the most favourable one was Snow’s guilty pleas, which spared the victims from testifying and thus “adding to their stress and discomfort with court proceedings.” Hurley noted Snow has expressed remorse and appears to have some understanding of the trauma he has caused the children.
Hurley didn’t mention Snow’s own childhood sexual abuse as presented earlier in the week by his lawyer, Shelley Senior, as a mitigating factor in the case. Senior said Snow had been sexually abused by his father and had likely grown up in a home where sexual abuse of children was normalized.
Chris Snow, 69, is known to many in St. John’s for driving a “Christmas truck” decorated with boughs and coloured lights and blaring music, and is serving a 10-year sentence for the repeated sexual assault of five children — boys and girls — as young as six years old, in the 1960s and 1970s. He was sentenced last December.