Ex-politician who kidnapped city lawyer and held police at bay for 24 hours sentenced to eight years

, 40, the former Oshawa, Ont., councillor and army reservist who kidnapped a city lawyer at gunpoint in revenge for financial troubles, took him in chains to a remote industrial compound with an arsenal of illegal weapons, then held off police in a standoff for more than 24 hours after the lawyer escaped, was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in prison.

In effect, that means three years and four months starting now, as he has been in custody since October 2012, for which he gets 1.5 times credit.

The sentence would have been more than a year higher if not for some desperate last-minute objections by his lawyer, Chris Murphy, who rose just as the judge told Lutczyk to stand and be sentenced. Murphy argued that a 10-year sentence, as was clearly about to happen, would break a deal with the Crown to secure a guilty plea.

“This is a very significant departure from what my friend (the prosecutor) and I were expecting,” said Murphy.

Judge Sosna agreed to reconsider. “My role is not to Shanghai anybody,” he said, though he noted the guilty plea came 3.5 years into the case, after Lutczyk, then self-represented, pursued diverse tactics, from habeas corpus to removing a judge for bias.

Tyler Anderson /  National PostTyler Anderson / National PostDavid and Maureen Potts in front of the court house in Oshawa, Ontario, Thursday February 4, 2016.

Pleading guilty after all that, the judge found, is less a positive step toward rehabilitation than a recognition of the inevitable, and it carries “little weight.” In the end, Sosna agreed to a joint submission from the Crown and defence on sentence, even rounding down a couple of weeks. “I’m prepared to be as generous as I can,” he said.

Sosna had just explained why a 10-year sentence was appropriate for the kidnapping, which lasted three hours and ended with a police chase and gunpoint standoff.

“What would have been David Potts’s fate (if he had not escaped)?” Sosna said. “The uncertainty of that question is daunting, troubling and frightening.”

Aggravating factors include a revenge motive, and the targeting of a participant in the justice system. Potts had played a role in the garnishment of Lutczyk’s wages to satisfy a court order, and in the by-law prosecution of Lutczyk’s father.

Sosna acknowledged some mitigating factors, like a clean record, but found his diagnosed adjustment disorder, brought on by financial and marital ruin, did not rob him of “rational perception and choice.”

A major factor in the plea deal dispute was Sosna’s refusal to grant Lutczyk double time credit for his pretrial custody. Sosna said he was assured by counsel there was a valid basis for this, in either case law or statute, but he has now learned there was not. He said to accept that deal would be an error, a key criteria for an appeal.

What would have been David Potts’s fate (if he had not escaped)? The uncertainty of that question is daunting, troubling and frightening

“This case demands closure,” he said.

Friday’s hearing was prolonged by an unusual dispute over Lutczyk’s claim that he once expressed remorse to a probation officer. Called to testify, she said he did not, and if he had, she would have made a note, which Sosna accepted as fact.

Then Lutczyk himself testified, in a much more engaged demeanour than last month, when he made a rambling apology to Maureen Potts, David’s wife, who had given a victim impact statement.

Then, he spoke slowly with a flat affect, but Friday he spoke quickly and confidently, and showed far more emotional range. When he stood up, he gave his buttoned jacket a little tug to straighten it.

He stuck to his story of remorse, even as the prosecutor called him a liar, but it was obvious how little hung on this point. Sosna did not believe his remorse anyway. He called it “hollow and disingenuous.”

The victim David Potts said outside court he accepted Lutczyk’s remorse and apology, in his first public comments since his ordeal.

Asked whether he finally considered this ordeal over, he said: “It was over three and a half years ago.”

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