North shore man jailed 18 months for importing weapons

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on February 12, 2013
Robert Greening
Cory Hurley

CORNER BROOK  Despite a last second plea from a man facing 18 months in jail, a provincial court judge said his sentencing decision must stand.

In Corner Brook Monday afternoon, Robert Greening — with a quivering voice, trembling hands, and near tears — stood before Judge Wayne Gorman and apologized for ordering a series of packages from China containing prohibited weapons. He begged the judge for mercy, asking him to either impose a period of house arrest, have him serve jail time on weekends, or have him wear an electronic ankle bracelet instead of serving straight jail time.

After hearing Gorman sentence him to 18 months in jail, the 43-year-old said he should have addressed the court last week when given the opportunity. The judge said he couldn’t promise his words would change the sentence he just imposed, but gave him the chance.

Reading from a piece of paper he brought with him to court, Greening said he brought shame to himself and his family. He also said he was under the influence of alcohol when he made the orders and was unaware of the consequences.

The Irishtown man said he cooperated with police, and described himself as a contributing member of society. He said he has full-time employment, which he would lose while in prison.

Gorman said he considered the impact of jail time for a person with a full-time job, but the judge’s hands were tied in sentencing. The importation of prohibited weapons carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison. That negates the ability of a judge to impose house arrest or allow the offender to serve time on weekends.

Provincial Crown attorney Trina Simms asked for a sentence between 12 and 18 months in jail, while defence lawyer Keir O’Flaherty requested a prison term on the lower end of that range. Gorman said having five charges under section 103 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada was the reason he felt the minimum one-year sentence was inappropriate.

Monday, the judge said this country prides itself on the restriction of importing prohibited weapons such as stun guns. These weapons have no legitimate purpose, he said, and are a danger to the public. Although there was no evidence these weapons were used or involved in any other criminal activity, he said denunciation must be stressed through significant penalties imposed by the court.

Greening had pleaded guilty to eight charges of importing prohibited weapons, three of which fell under the Customs Act. Those charges resulted in a $5,000 fine. He will also be under probation for a year following his release from prison.

In total, 12 stun guns, a set of brass knuckles and two Taser transmission cartridges were seized from the postal service and forfeited to the Crown. The first package was intercepted at the Vancouver International Mail Centre in June. Greening was arrested in September, and six more packages were intercepted after his arrest. The packages were en route to his home address.

churley@thewesternstar.com

Twitter: WS_CoryHurley