"His time in jail is not going to be pleasant. He's going to be at the bottom of the food chain as far as other offenders are concerned"
A Brantford man who quickly confessed to trying to lure a Norfolk child into sexual behaviour over the internet caught several breaks when his case was heard in Simcoe’s Ontario Court recently.
Matthew J. Monahan, 23, admitted he engaged in four days of sexual conversations with a 14-year-old, including sending her a video of him masturbating and encouraging her to send him nude photos.
And, to the concern of Justice Colette Good, Monahan repeatedly pushed to meet the girl so they could “kiss, cuddle and date”, which the judge characterized as “grooming” behaviour.
But several circumstances stopped Good from imposing a much longer sentence than the four months of jail Monahan finally was ordered to serve.
Good noted that Monahan was immediately cooperative with police when he was arrested, gave a full confession and later wrote a letter of apology to his victim.
For a full year before his sentencing, Monahan did his utmost to get the matter dealt with but – due to illnesses, a death in someone’s family and various discussions between the lawyers – his matter faced another eight court appearances where he and his family turned up, uncertain about whether Monahan would be taken into custody.
“I’m sure each time he presented himself to the court has been significantly stressful to him,” said Good, noting that Monahan would have served his time and put the matter behind him if he had been allowed to proceed immediately as he wished.
“He’s never been to jail before and will be going in as a sexual predator.” said Good, “and his time in jail is not going to be pleasant. He’s going to be at the bottom of the food chain as far as other offenders are concerned”
In addition, while the government has called for stiffer sentences on child luring, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently struck down a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first offence.
“Sentencing ranges are only a portrait and not a straightjacket that binds the court,” said Good. “I have to weigh the features of each case.”
Along with Monahan’s swift acceptance of responsibility, Good noted that he was heavily abusing drugs at the time of the incident and said that behaviour never would have happened if he had been sober.
She also noted that Monahan didn’t grow up learning about healthy and consensual relationship boundaries and said he was willing to take sex offender treatment.
On the other hand, Good said, Monahan was dealing with a real victim, even though she was a willing participant in the conversations.
“He was 21 and she was 14. He knew she was 14 and nonetheless persisted.”
Good said Monahan sent a picture of his penis to the girl and pushed her to send photos to him. She eventually sent a picture of herself wearing only a bra.
The conversations stopped when the girl’s mother discovered what was going on and phoned the police.
Assistant Crown attorney Gracie Romano asked Good to consider four to six months of jail time for Monahan and his defence lawyer, Shawn Swarts, who hoped for a conditional sentence until realizing it wasn’t allowed by law, asked the judge for leniency.
Good agreed, saying she normally would have imposed a six-month sentence but, due to it being Monahan’s first offence and the fact that there was a significant delay not of his making, opted for four months.
When released, Monahan will have a three-year probation and be under a 10-year order where he can’t use a computer to communicate with anyone under 16.
“If you breach this order, you’ll almost certainly go to jail for a long time,” warned Good.
Monahan will be on the sexual offenders list for the rest of his life.