Federal prosecutors announced Monday that they are appealing the 12-year prison sentence of Saad Gaya, one of the so-called “Toronto 18” members accused of plotting terrorist bombing attacks in 2006.
Gaya, a 22-year-old Oakville man, pleaded guilty in September to participating in a terrorist group that planned on bombing significant Toronto landmarks and a military base off Highway 401.
On Jan. 18, Superior Court of Justice Bruce Durno sentenced him to 12 years in prison but credited him for the 7 ½ years he served in presentencing custody. This means Gaya will ultimately serve an additional 4 ½ years in jail and may be eligible for parole in just over a year from now.
Crown prosecutors sought a harsher sentence for Gaya and on Monday, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada announced it is appealing to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
According to the court filing, prosecutors are alleging Gaya’s sentence was “not proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the culpability of the offender,” and that Durno “erred in principle” by not ordering Gaya to serve at least half of his sentence before becoming eligible for full parole.
The notice also alleges Durno was wrong to conclude that a statement Gaya gave to police after his arrest amounted to cooperation that could mitigate his sentence.
The Crown also contends the judge “unduly emphasized” the principles of rehabilitation and specific deterrence.
When reached Monday, Gaya’s lawyer Paul Slansky said the sentence was “well within the range of appropriate sentences” and criticized the appeal as lacking “merit.”
“It was a well-reasoned decision,” he said of Gaya’s sentence. “Certainly, there’s no legitimate basis for the grounds of appeal as far as I’m concerned.”
Slansky said he’s been in contact with Gaya’s family, who “obviously” did not agree with the appeal.
He refused to speculate as to why prosecutors were pursuing the appeal but said he had a few hunches.
“You may want to consider, however, that there are other people who are still charged, still potentially to be found guilty,” Slansky said. “(The prosecutors) may want to take a position with respect to sentencing because it may impact others yet to be found guilty or sentenced.”
Gaya was being held at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, but Slansky said he believes he has recently been moved to a penitentiary.