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Child abductor Randall Hopley leaves his sentencing hearing at the courthouse in Cranbrook, B.C., on July 19, 2012.

Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press

A child abductor who snatched a three-year-old boy from his bedroom during a late-night break-in at a home in southeastern British Columbia should spend less time behind bars, says his lawyer.

Ken Beatch argued in the B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday that his client, Randall Hopley, should be granted more than three years' credit for time already served in order to further reduce his seven-year sentence.

"When this sentence was crafted there was not a consideration for dead time," said Beatch, referring to pre-sentence time Hopley had served prior to sentencing. "The calculation of dead time comes down to fairness."

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Hopley was awarded 26 months of credit based on the time he spent awaiting trial.

Beatch asked a trio of appeal judges to instead give Hopley one and a half times that, shaving off an additional 13 months from the sentence.

Hopley was sentenced before a Supreme Court of Canada ruling softened the Conservative government's tough-on-crime policies, which until then had tied judges' hands in awarding sentencing credits.

The appeal judges reserved their decision.

Hopley, who's now around 50 years old, pleaded guilty in 2012 to abducting Kienan Hebert the previous September from his home in Sparwood, B.C., before returning the boy to his parents four days later.

The manhunt for Hopley and the boy galvanized Canadians who reported numerous sightings, some hundreds of kilometres away. Hopley was eventually arrested at a bible camp near the Alberta, B.C. border.

Hopley has a history of sexually abusing children but Kienan was apparently not assaulted by his abductor.

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A sentencing judge labelled Hopley a long-term offender in November 2013, which means he will be subject to 10 years of supervision following his release.

Crown lawyer Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten opposed the appeal, arguing in court on Tuesday that to award extra credit would undermine the fundamental purpose of Hopley's sentence, which is to protect the public.

"It is not a sentence that is unfair," she told the court.

DeWitt-Van Oosten described the sentence's underlying objective as "very much grounded in this particular individual – not in general deterrence, not in specific deterrence, but grounded in the risk he presents as an individual offender."

The court previously heard that Hopley sexually assaulting pre-pubescent children decades before he abducted the boy. He was eventually diagnosed with pedophilia.

At his sentencing hearing, the Crown had argued that Hopley should be declared a dangerous offender, which would have kept him in jail indefinitely.

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The judge instead classified him as a long-term offender, concluding Hopley's sexual offences were too far removed for his criminal behaviour to qualify as repetitive – a criterion for dangerous offender status – as argued by the Crown.

He was sentenced to six years and two months for the child abduction, as well as an additional year for several break-ins at residences across the boundary in Alberta.

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