Man Convicted of Sexual Assault Sentenced In Absentia After Fleeing the Country

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Moazzam Tariq, a 29-year old Brampton man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who was too intoxicated to consent to sex, has been sentenced in absentia after fleeing the country to Pakistan.

As we previously blogged about, Tariq was found guilty of sexual assault in October of this year, based in large part on shocking surveillance videos. He was expected at his sentencing hearing earlier this month, but failed to appear.

Not the First Time the Offender Has Fled the Country

This is the second time that Tariq has left Canada in order to avoid a jail sentence. Due to an apparent failure to update the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) (the national database of criminal records), both Toronto police and prosecutors were unaware that Tariq had previously been charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm in January 2010, and that he subsequently fled to Pakistan, while on bail, with his father as surety.

Tariq was re-arrested entering Canada in September 2011, at which point he had informed officers that he had left the country to avoid jail on the outstanding charges, and spent the year in Pakistan and various European countries. He was charged with failure to appear as well as robbery, and was released on bail two days later to his father and another surety for $25,000. In July 2012 he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. All other charges were withdrawn. Tariq received a sentence of 90 days in jail (to be served on weekend), as well as 18 months’ probation.

Ontario Court Justice Mara Greene stated that “had we known his history he would have been put in custody immediately” and would likely not have been granted bail on the sexual assault charge. Justice Greene called Tariq’s escape a “foregone conclusion”.

After Tariq’s sexual assault conviction earlier this year, his father was asked what had happened when he had previously acted as Tariq’s surety following the dangerous driving charges. The father did not disclose that his son had fled the jurisdiction then, telling the court only that Tariq had committed a minor breach of his bail conditions because he lived within 500 meters of a school.

Offender Had Been Required to Surrender His Passport

At the time Tariq fled the country this time, he was on $10,000 bail, was required to live with his father in Brampton, and had to be home between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Upon conviction, he had also been required to surrender his passport. Allegedly, Tariq provided authorities with an expired passport that had been forged to appear current. He then used his valid Pakistani passport to leave Canada on November 18th through Montreal, stopping in Qatar, before ultimately ending up in Pakistan.

Prosecutors and the Court initially learned that Tariq was missing when he failed to show up at the sentencing hearing. However, he had been reported to have breached his bail on November 24th, after his father removed himself as surety, telling police that Tariq had gone to Vancouver on business and then subsequently stopped answering phone calls. A nationwide warrant for Tariq’s arrest was subsequently issued on December 5th, at which point Tariq had already been out of the country for two weeks.

At the time of the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Nathan Kruger told Justice Green that “Your Honour can make a reasonable inference that [Tariq] will not be returning and will not be found prior to Dec. 19”. Greene stated that communication between jurisdictions “clearly needs to be improved” adding that:

I have found Mr. Tariq guilty of a serious personal injury offence that affects the core integrity of the human body. And the potential risk to others if he remains in the community, given his disregard for the legal system is really concerning…[i]f there had been better communication mechanisms in place, if CPIC was updated properly we would not be in this position.

Following the initial sentencing hearing, Tariq’s defense lawyer was removed as his counsel at her request.

The Sentence

On December 19th, Tariq was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

At the hearing, Justice Greene acknowledged that it was unusual to proceed with sentencing in the absence of the offender, however, in this case it was necessary to allow the victim to move forward with her life.

Justice Greene took the victim’s impact statement into account when setting the sentence, acknowledging the immense trauma the victim was suffering and stating:

It is difficult to imagine that feeling of stopping to be who you are because of someone else’s callous violence towards you…

Prosecutors had sought a three-year sentence. They did not ask the Justice to consider Tariq’s flight as part of the sentence, telling the Court that if he was found and returned to Canada the issue of his flight would be dealt with separately.

Tariq’s father is expected to have a hearing next year over whether or not he should forfeit the $10,000 he provided for bail.

If you are facing sexual assault or related charges, or have questions about bail, contact the skilled defense lawyers at Affleck Barrison online or at 905 404 1947. For your convenience, we offer 24-hour phone services and a free confidential consultation. We are available when you need us most.