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Nanaimo man accused of manslaughter denied appeal of assault sentence

Appeal court judge says Kyle Ordway’s sentence could have been twice what it was
The B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Black Press Media file photo)

A Nanaimo man currently before the courts for manslaughter has had an appeal denied related to a previous assault conviction.

Kyle Gordon Ordway, charged with the manslaughter in the death of Amy Watts, whose body was discovered in a wooded area of downtown Nanaimo in 2021, has had an appeal of his sentencing for assault causing bodily harm denied.

According to court documents, Ordway was convicted in 2023 for one count of assault causing bodily harm to a woman. He received an 18-month prison sentence plus 18 months’ probation. He had also been facing charges of unlawful confinement and theft under $5,000, but proceedings in respect to those charges were stayed.

Ordway’s appeal, heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver last month, argued the sentencing judge erred by considering the unlawful confinement as an aggravating factor in the case even though the jury didn’t reach a verdict on that charge.

Based on the idea the judge erred, the appropriate penalty should have been no more than six months’ incarceration, Ordway contended. The appeal also argued that imposing an abstention from alcohol and illicit drugs in the probation order was unfit.

As part of her reasoning at sentencing, the judge found that Ordway assaulted the victim when she tried to leave her home, that he and his then-girlfriend burned the victim with a crack pipe, that Ordway knew his girlfriend assaulted the victim on multiple occasions, and that he verbally assaulted and threatened the victim.

In the appeal court’s written reasons for judgment, released Thursday, April 25, the judge wrote that “it is clear on the evidence that the complainant was confined in her home by [Ordway’s then-girlfriend] for several days during which she suffered assaults at the hands of Mr. Ordway and [his girlfriend], which resulted in burn marks, bruising, and swelling. The judge’s findings … are amply supported by the evidence.”

The appeal court judge also wrote that it was up to the sentencing judge to “make her own independent determination of the facts, consistent with the jury’s verdict … [and] … entirely open to her to find that the appellant took part in multiple assaults on the complainant while she was confined without intending to aid and abet [his girlfriend] in the unlawful confinement itself.”

The appeal court judge also noted that the Crown had sought a custodial sentence of 12 to 18 months, which resulted in the judge imposing the 18-month maximum.

“On appeal, the Crown says this sentence was ‘restrained’, which in my view is an understatement,” the appeal court judge wrote. “Taking into account all the circumstances as found by the judge, a fit sentence could well have been twice that.”

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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