The Crown is seeking a 25-year prison sentence for a former Hants County man who was found guilty last spring on 18 historical sex-related charges involving five girls.
James Michael Snow’s sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 16 in Windsor provincial court.
“It is rare that Nova Scotia courts encounter an offender as dangerous and predatory as Mr. Snow,” prosecutor Rob Kennedy said in a sentencing brief filed this week. “Our children need to be protected from Mr. Snow.
“Except for timeframes when Mr. Snow was incarcerated, his sexual offending against children has gone (on) relatively unabated since the mid-1980s. He has committed sexual offences against children throughout the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s. 2010s and 2020s. When given the opportunity to reside in the community as recently as 2020, Mr. Snow could not resist the urge to sexually offend against children when he exposed his penis to a child victim at the Truro Walmart.
“Since Mr. Snow was assessed by Dr. Angela Connors to be a moderate-high risk to reoffend in a sexual manner back in 2003, he has continued to sexually offend against children. This is troubling and speaks to his ongoing high risk to reoffend in a sexual manner.“
Snow, 63, stood trial in front of Judge Chris Manning on a total of 41 charges.
Manning delivered the verdict May 5, convicting Snow on four counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference, three counts of invitation to sexual touching, two counts of gross indecency, and single counts of sexual exploitation, incest, attempting to overcome resistance by suffocation, committing an indecent act, and attempting to obtain sexual services for consideration from someone under the age of 18.
The offences were committed between 1984 and 1998, mainly in Walton, Hants County, where Snow lived at the time. One of the sexual assaults took place in Halifax in 1988.
The incest charge involves Snow’s eldest daughter, Mandy Wood, who did not want her identity protected. There’s a publication ban on the identities of the other victims.
The sexual abuse ranged from exposure to attempted intercourse. The victims were between the ages of four and 17 when they were molested.
Actions were ‘egregious’
Kennedy said the offences were committed when Snow occupied a position of trust and authority, and the abuse involved significant physical interference with the victims’ bodily integrity.
“The actions of Mr. Snow were egregious,” the Crown attorney wrote in the brief. “He has left a trail of destruction. He singlehandedly destroyed the victims’ formative years. Despite the passage of decades, the immeasurable impacts of his actions continue to be felt by the victims today.”
The facts underlying the convictions are extremely aggravating and require a strong message from the court, the prosecutor said.
“These are crimes of repeated and protracted sexual violence against multiple children during their tender years, causing irreparable harm,” Kennedy said. “Mr. Snow dehumanized and exploited these children when they were most vulnerable. He used them as objects to satisfy his own selfish sexual desires. His actions were not impulsive but rather systematic and deliberate. “
Snow’s interactions with four of the victims involved grooming behaviour, followed by escalating sexual abuse, Kennedy said.
“It is clear from listening to the victims’ testimony during the trial that they have suffered immensely from Mr. Snow’s sexual abuse in various ways,” he said.
“It is remarkable that despite the deep trauma that these women experienced as children, they continue to exhibit such resilience and strength. It is anticipated that some of the victims will be addressing the court with victim impact statements at the time of sentencing.”
Kennedy said Snow comes before the court with an “alarming history” of sexual offences against children.
In 1987, Snow was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl and received a sentence of seven months in jail. That offence happened in Walton as well.
In 2003, he was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually assaulting a girl in Walton. The sentence also included a lifetime prohibition on attending parks, playgrounds, pools, schools and other places where children under the age of 14 are likely to be present.
In November 2017, Snow was convicted of exposure after he was seen masturbating in front of a window at his Dartmouth apartment the previous February by children who were sledding. He was sentenced to time served and three years’ probation.
In June 2022, Snow was found guilty of exposing his genitals to a girl at the Walmart store in Truro in January 2021 and two counts of breaching his release conditions on other charges. A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers in August 2022 and sentenced Snow to 20 months in jail, deemed served by his time on remand.
He also has three convictions for arson and two for break and enter from the 1980s, for which served two federal sentences before the sexual offending began.
“While the 1987 conviction is the only related prior conviction, his continued sexual offending since speaks to his low prospects of rehabilitation and elevated risk of reoffending,” Kennedy said.
“The sentence imposed should be commensurate with the ongoing requirement to separate Mr. Snow from society and the need for denunciation and deterrence. He has demonstrated that he cannot function in society without sexually offending against children.”
As of Nov. 16, Snow will have accumulated 940 days of remand credit. If the court accepts the Crown’s recommendation, the go-forward sentence would be 22 years and 155 days.
Snow had two lawyers at trial but is now representing himself. He refused to co-operate with preparation of an updated forensic sexual behaviour assessment for this sentencing.