Corey Daniel Ramelson v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Criminal law - Abuse of process - Criminal law — Abuse of process — Entrapment — Luring — Whether, in light of R. v. Ahmad, 2020 SCC 11, Project Raphael was a bona fide police inquiry — What is the proper analysis to be applied in determining whether a virtual space is sufficiently precisely and narrowly defined to meet the standard of a bona fide inquiry?.
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At trial the appellant, Corey Daniel Ramelson, was found guilty of three indictable offences under ss. 172.1, 172.2 and 286.1 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. The appellant’s charges arose out of Project Raphael designed by the York Regional Police in Ontario — an undercover investigation that began in 2014 with the objective of reducing the demand for sexual services from juveniles in the region by targeting the “buyer side”. As part of the investigation, the police posted fake advertisements in the “escorts” section of the online classified advertising website Backpage.com. When individuals responded to the ads an undercover officer posing as an escort would disclose in the ensuing text chat that “she” was underage. Individuals who continued the chat and arranged sexual services and a price were directed to a hotel room to complete the transaction; they were then arrested and charged on their arrival.
The trial judge originally dismissed the appellant’s application for a stay of proceedings based on entrapment. However, after this Court released its decision in R. v. Ahmad, 2020 SCC 11, the parties were invited to address the impact of that decision on the entrapment analysis. In a second decision the trial judge found that the police actions constituted entrapment and entered a stay of proceedings on the charges.
The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed the Crown’s appeal from the stay of proceedings, set aside the stay and remitted the matter to the trial judge for sentencing. The court concluded that the police investigation was a bona fide police inquiry and that the police did not require reasonable suspicion that the person responding to the ad was seeking someone underage before extending offers to commit the offence of communicating to obtain for consideration the sexual services of an underage person. In conducting the investigation, the police necessarily provided persons with the opportunity to commit the rationally connected offence of communicating with a person they believed to be underage to facilitate sexual contact with them. The court concluded that the appellant was therefore not entrapped.
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