VANCOUVER - A former Vancouver man who was kidnapped at gunpoint in 2006 and held for eight days is applauding the country's top court for giving teeth to abduction laws by upholding a harsh sentence against one of his tormentors.
Graham McMynn called Thursday's Supreme Court of Canada decision to throw out the appeal of Sam Tuan Vu, one of the men convicted in the crime, a "great win" that will set a precedent for the future.
The top court agreed with the B.C. Court of Appeal that a trial judge erred when he convicted Sam Tuan Vu for the unlawful confinement of McMynn, rather than the far more serious charge of kidnapping.
"I feel it is great that the justice system is able to actually convict a criminal of what they are guilty for," said McMynn in an email to The Canadian Press. "It is just unfortunate it took them six years to figure that out."
Vu was among five men charged in 2006 after McMynn, the son of a wealthy Vancouver businessman, was grabbed from his car under threat of weapons more than a week before police made his rescue.
The court heard Vu bought a tarp and duct tape four days before McMynn's rescue, and threatened to kill him if a ransom was not paid.
However, the trial judge concluded that Vu could not be convicted of kidnapping since he was not involved when McMynn was first snatched or moved between houses in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.
Vu was acquitted of the kidnapping charge and instead convicted of the lesser crime of unlawful confinement.
Vu was sentenced to eight years.
But the B.C. Appeal Court overturned the acquittal.
The appeal court judges decided it was clear Vu was involved in holding McMynn against his will and knew full well he'd been kidnapped, making him a party to the kidnapping and guilty of that offence.
The Supreme Court agreed in a unanimous 7-0 decision.
"The kidnapping came to an end when he was set free by the police," Justice Michael Moldaver wrote in the ruling. "Put differently, Mr. McMynn's status as a victim of a kidnapping did not change during his eight days of captivity."
Howard Rubin, one of the lawyers who represented Vu, said the decision "doesn't really have much impact on anything."
"It's all over," Rubin said of the case, calling his client a "minor player."
The Vancouver Police Department is happy with the decision, said spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham.
"We believe that this will be of great assistance to all law-enforcement agencies in Canada in holding those involved in these violent crimes accountable for their actions," he said.
Jennifer Duncan, who served as Crown counsel on the case, said the Supreme Court's decision provides clarity on the application of kidnapping law.
She said that previously, some doubt has existed as to whether kidnapping should be considered a continuous offence.
"I think the decision makes it extremely clear that kidnapping begins with the taking of the victim, and it continues on until the victim is either released or rescued by the authorities," she said.
Duncan said Vu has been re-sentenced to 10.5 years and is now back in custody after being out on bail pending his appeal.
Vu turned himself in to police at 1 p.m. Wednesday, and will be transferred to a federal institution from the pre-trial facility where he has been held, she said.
Vu has two years and four months left on his warrant, she added. The parole board will determine next details, including his statutory release date.