Sentencing for a Medicine Hat teen accused of posting death threats which referenced the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was adjourned Wednesday to work out conditions for use of social media by the accused.
John Clapham, 19, was arrested soon after he posted, as an online dare, the threats copied and pasted onto the teen’s Facebook page from a non-regulated social media site.
The threats included praise of the Sandy Hook killer with an additional comment that the same was in store for Medicine Hat High School students.
Judge Gordon Krinke agreed with defence counsel Bill Cocks that no further risk assessment was required for Clapham as his client, “was not a risk for carrying out these threats.”
Crown Andrea Dolan sought a 60-day jail sentence on top of the 60 days Clapham already served in pre-trial custody following his December 2012 arrest, as well as two-years of probation.
Dolan stated she is concerned of further risks to the public Clapham may pose, characterizing the teen as “choosing to live in a cyber world.”
Krinke questioned on how Internet use ties into the uttering threats charge and how that should reflect on sentencing.
Dolan said it should be seen as an aggravating factor in addition to other computer activities conducted by Clapham.
She outlined the findings in the psychological assessment which highlighted Clapham’s “exotic humour” which was used to push social conventions, adding, “he pushed them too far.”
Cocks told the court his client “is not a violent person, has no history of violence,” and described the Facebook posting as an extreme example of truth or dare by a youthful offender.
He asked the court to consider a conditional sentence as the psychological report demonstrated Clapham poses no risk to the public.
Krinke highlighted the issues surrounding the Internet generation, “our reality is not the reality of young people … Virtual reality is their reality.”
Krinke described Clapham, based on evidence presented, as a person with difficulties in actual social relationships which were exasperated by the teen’s online interactions and personality traits.
He stopped short of imposing a custodial sentence, instead leaned to the direction of a suspended sentence which would include probation.
However, a final decision on sentencing was put over until Sept. 11 for counsel to present options as to how to regulate Clapham’s social media use.