A young man involved in the brazen, gunpoint abduction more than six years ago of UBC student Graham McMynn is back behind bars, after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously rejected an appeal of his kidnapping conviction.
Sam Tuan Vu returned to jail to complete his sentence the day before Thursday’s public release of the Supreme Court ruling.
Mr. Vu had been out on bail, while awaiting a verdict from Canada’s highest court.
At issue in the high-profile crime was whether the teenaged Mr. Vu was guilty of kidnapping, even though he was not one of those who forced Mr. McMynn into a getaway car on the morning of April 4, 2006, after blocking the student’s vehicle on the way to UBC.
Rather, Mr. Vu took part in Mr. McMynn’s confinement at three separate locations where he was held during the eight terrifying days of his captivity, in a failed attempt to secure a ransom for his release.
Police finally stormed a basement suite in Surrey, B.C. and freed the 24-year old son of a wealthy Vancouver businessman. He had spent most of his time bound and confined to a closet.
In B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. Vu was originally acquitted of kidnapping, because the judge decided that he did not physically kidnap Mr. McMynn. He was sentenced instead to eight years for unlawful confinement.
Kidnapping is a more serious charge, carrying a maximum punishment of life.
The ringleaders of the plot, Anh The Nguyen and Jose Hernandez, were given 13 and 12 years respectively.
The Crown successfully appealed Mr. Vu’s kidnapping acquittal to the B.C. Court of Appeal. An extra two and a half years was then tacked on to Mr. Vu’s eight-year term. Mr. Vu served five months of that extra time, before he was granted bail, while appealing his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The top court dismissed his appeal, ruling that kidnapping is an ongoing crime, not restricted to the actual abduction itself.
“So long as the the victim of the kidnapping remains unlawfully confined, the crime of kidnapping continues,” wrote Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver.
Judge Moldaver said it would be incongruous to consider the few minutes it took for Mr. McMynn’s captors to snatch and remove him as a more serious crime than the ordeal of being held for eight days, without knowing what would happen to him.
“That was the worst part of Mr. McMynn’s ordeal,” the judge found.
“Surely, Parliament could not have intended that the victim’s initial apprehension and movement,which will often occur in a matter of seconds, be treated more seriously than the victim’s ensuing captivity, which may last for days, months, or even years.”
Evidence during Mr. Vu’s trial showed that he was present at all three houses where Mr. McMynn was held, and was aware that his kidnappers were seeking a ransom.
“[Mr. Vu] took steps, of his own free will, to assist the kidnappers and further their objectives. By doing so, he made himself a party to the offence of kidnapping under [the criminal code],” Judge Moldaver concluded.
All three men convicted in the McMynn kidnapping had their time in jail substantially reduced because of the double credit they received for their several years in custody before their trial took place.