Corey Hurren Sentencing Hearing 1.0

Corey Hurren, the Manitoba QAnon fancier who drove for 28 hours to get to Ottawa, then rammed his truck through the gate at Rideau Hall, picked up three loaded long guns, and set off in pursuit of the Prime Minister, but then surrendered to the RCMP, had his sentencing hearing today in Ottawa. Reporters were permitted to connect to the Zoom call, while Hurren, defence counsel Michael Davies, and Assistant Crown Attorney Meaghan Cunningham were physically present in Courtroom 7, traditionally the home of sentencing for guilty pleas.

Less than an hour before Hurren drove his truck through the gates of Rideau Hall, a social media account for his business posted a meme that blames the global elite for COVID-19.

Al Jazeera

That post was an invitation to a post-pandemic party and suggestion they look up “Event 201,” Event 201 was a pandemic preparedness exercise, and QAnon supporters have claimed that it’s proof that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is behind a bio-terrorist plan using Covid-19.

A comment from Douglas Thew on that post now reads: “Methinks your “lockdown” is going to last a little longer than the rest of ours…” Which, arguable at this point. Unproven thesis.

He originally faced 21 weapons charges and one of threatening the prime minister, who was not home at the time.

Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to seven weapons charges related to possession of prohibited or restricted firearms “for a purpose contrary to the public peace.”

He also pleaded guilty to one charge of mischief by wilfully causing $100,000 worth of damage to the Rideau Hall gate.

CTV via CanadianPress

Hurren’s original charges, all 22 of them, had been filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, or INSET, which is a counterterrorism unit. Over the course of almost a year of discussions, fourteen of the charges including the threat to Trudeau disappeared, leaving just seven weapons charges and the “mischief” for ramming his truck through the (quite substantial) iron gate.

From July 3, the day after the attack:

The original headline on that article referred to a “Friendly sausage-maker” ie the suspect in custody
Originally I agreed that Hurren’s armed-to-the-teeth and highly forcible incursion onto the grounds of Rideau Hall was an assassination attempt, I no longer believe it. I think clinically depressed Corey Hurren, out of work, with a failed business and a failing marriage, and with the guns in which he placed his own value as a man being newly-restricted by government, wanted to die. He wanted suicide by cop. And, when face to face with the officers on whom he was placing that burden, he simply couldn’t do it. He could not turn them into killers. Speculation, yes, possums, but That Note read enough like a suicide note that his own friends called the RCMP about it. This, by the way, is bog-standard QAnon procedure: you get them all fired up and apocalyptic, and then you just tell them to bring their guns and you let them wing it. That’s why Corey Hurren failed. That’s why the January 6 Insurrection failed. Not because anarchy fails, but because anarchy and fascism are opposites. If you’re a dutiful order-taker you’re the opposite of a lone wolf, regardless of what your favourite subreddit tells you.

After a slight, apparently Zoom-tech-related delay, the hearing got underway. Yes, we’ve been in a pandemic for a year now and everywhere should be pretty fluent in Zooming, but we’re talking about a government institution that still accepts faxes. We’re lucky they don’t still mandate wigs. Before we start, I find it interesting to note that the prosecutor, ie the Crown Attorney in Canadian Parlance, has given public presentations on trauma-informed prosecutions.

Here are my livetweets. Editorial comments will be added in later in italics.

One thing about having newsworthy trials by Zoom, when TPTB don’t want them reported on: it’s really easy to exclude the media, or the media you don’t particularly want. Anyone else locked out? In related news, I’ve previously speculated that the timing of today’s Biden/Trudeau press availability and online meeting is scheduled within two hours specifically to minimize the likelihood of a major federal political reporter covering this, although I see Adrian Humphreys among other names which I stupidly forgot to take down.

Got in, a bit late.

Corey Hurren did $100,000 damage to the gate at Rideau Hall when he rammed the gate en route to confronting Justin Trudeau, which he failed to do. A misdemeanor? Apparently not, because we don’t have those in Canada, although it is only officially “mischief”. It is an indictable offence and can be punishable by anything up to life in prison. Oho, things have suddenly gotten interesting.

Odd. When Hurren abandoned his truck he left behind the two handguns and only took the long guns with him en route to Rideau Cottage, unless I misheard.

The guns:

  • • A loaded “Hi-Standard revolver,” which is a restricted firearm for which he had no license to posses. There are no details given. It presumably is a High Standard gun, which commonly fires .22 calibre bullets, but also comes in a .357 Magnum version. They are sold with various barrel lengths, including a long model that looks like the guns in old cowboy movies.
  • • A loaded “Norinco M14 rifle,” a prohibited firearm. The M14 is a retired military weapon now common with hunters. Although it isn’t specified, most M14s are semi-automatic.
  • • A loaded “Lakefield Mossberg shotgun,” which is a non-restricted firearm. The Canada-made 12-gauge, pump action shotguns come in different barrel lengths.
  • • A loaded “Grizzly Arms shotgun,” which is likely a mistake meant to refer to a Dominion Arms Grizzly Mag shotgun, which is a non-restricted firearm. The shotgun is based on the design of one of the most popular pump-action shotguns, and is used in sport shooting, hunting and by police and military.
  • Hurren is also charged with having a prohibited high-capacity magazine, although which gun it is for is not given. It likely was for the M14.

Ah and now we are talking about mandatory minimums. Hurren may be facing 3 years per count on the weapons charges. I wondered why mandatory minimums were discussed at last week’s briefing.

From the plea hearing:

Hurren told police he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, and that he wanted to arrest Trudeau to make a statement about the federal government’s COVID-19 restrictions and its ban on assault-style firearms. He believed Canada was turning into a communist state.

At no point did Hurren tell police he wanted to kill Trudeau, according to the statement. He also told police he didn’t want to hurt them and did not point a weapon at them as officers tried to de-escalate the incident.

“In this note, Hurren stated he could not cope with the restrictions of COVID-19, the financial loss sustained due to the closure of his business and the recent firearm ban and felt that Canada was now under a communist dictatorship,” according to the statement. “Hurren hoped his actions would be a ? ‘wake-up call and a turning point.”’

He told police at the scene that he wanted to show Trudeau “how angry everyone was about the gun ban and the COVID-19 restrictions” and said the prime minister “is a communist who is above the law and corrupt.”

He felt “betrayed by his government ? (he) has nothing left.”

Global News Feb 5

The guns he left in the truck: one was restricted and one was prohibited. He perhaps didn’t want them on his person when he was taken into custody. But he did have a semiautomatic on him. Plus a rifle and shotgun, both loaded. Semiautomatic rifle with high capacity magazine, plus another rifle, and a shotgun were what Hurren took with him on foot. All loaded of course. Taking the highly visible long guns instead of the handguns is an odd choice if face-to-face confrontation and assassination is your goal. It seems a much more logical choice if what you want, after your dramatic and noisy entrance, is to draw the attention of security officers for a quick Suicide by Cop. As I mentioned above, QAnon’s MOA is to encourage people to arm themselves, get them riled up, and then launch them with no plan whatsoever hoping they’ll do something, anything, and in that sense Corey Hurren is a good, relatively typical, Q soldier.

The prosecutor says by arming himself with multiple visible firearms AT THE VERY LEAST Hurren was creating a situation where the RCMP may have had to discharge firearms. And even Hurren has alluded to the possible psychological burden on anyone who was forced to fire by Hurren’s actions.

Hurren said [when I say “Hurren said” in this post, I mean that the speaker is quoting Hurren. Either his remarks or his writings. Hurren did not make any statements in court today] he didn’t have a plan, but thought he might interrupt the news conference (which wasn’t scheduled at that hour! They’re not done on Thursdays anyway, and by that point they were not daily but rather twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays) or force a confrontation of some kind. And he knew he would not survive: he left contact info in the note and hoped “it would all be worth it”.

Hurren didn’t know the Prime Minister had the day off and generally posts his schedule online the night before. He also didn’t know that in the summer both Trudeau and the Governor-General are unlikely to be on the property at Rideau Hall unless they have to work that day. Hurren apparently didn’t know the Harrington Lake property even existed. And he was reportedly surprised and disappointed to find that the Canadian War Museum was closed on Canada Day. All of this just highlights how very foreign Ottawa is to him, a man from small-town Manitoba. It is indeed a city of silos, and nobody will tell you where to find the doors.

“Mr Hurren thought it might be useful to him to be able to fire 30 rounds without reloading” says the prosecutor, dryly. “Its the risk of harm that matters. It was at a magnitude rarely seen” says the Crown. The prosecutor is basically laying out the case that it’s the likelihood of harm, and the deliberateness of the offence, which should be taken into account when sentencing. “There are some mitigating factors” eg only a dated and unrelated criminal record from 1999. “There are no expressions of remorse or appreciation of the [seriousness] of his conduct,” as mitigating factors. And obviously it was not impulsive either, it was planned and he followed through on his plan.

Doing $100,000 damage in an armed assault on Rideau Hall is a mischief charge, it seems.

“Corey Hurren is a 46 year old man who, by his own account, had a happy childhood.” and as reasons he gave “a list of grievances against people who have wronged him. His complaints are largely irrelevant here.”

“Mr Hurren’s depression may have contributed to him not caring that he might not survive…that’s one interpretation. But there’s another more compelling inference…Corey Hurren was prepared to die for his cause” says the Crown and this cannot be considered mitigating.

“He wasn’t doing this in order to die. [in the doc’s opinion] He was motivated by his negative but non delusional views” of the current government. The prosecutor says that’s not mitigating, not at all. I’d argue that calling Justin Trudeau Of All People a Communist is indeed delusional. And I mean, I’m a Communist. Do you have to be mentally ill to be deluded, or can you merely be tricked/brainwashed? A legal point on which I am unclear.

“With the firearms ban…I can no longer sit back & watch things happening” said Hurren. And that Canada was under a communist dictatorship. “Mr Hurren’s actions were politically motivated, plain and simple, and in Canada we have many ways which are lawful” to object.

“Mr Hurren’s motivations for carrying loaded firearms…are not mitigating….they are aggravating” paraphrasing the Crown. “Those who place the lives of Can’s at risk by carrying loaded firearms to send a political message” must be treated with seriousness, she says.

Crown asks for a TOTAL sentence of six years. The crown is also seeking: a DNA order given the nature of this offence and the risk to public safety (ie he’ll be in a database of DNA forever, in case he reoffends somehow), a firearms prohibition for life, and forfeiture of the firearms in this case.

The Crown rests.

The Defence says they will be asking for a sentence of three years. “Mr Hurren is not simply that man who committed these acts…but has a life, a productive life where he made a contribution to looking after his family, and his country, and his community” oh it’s the “he’s a white middle class guy” defence I see.

And right there you have the reason this ginger-bearded white defendant is suddenly claiming to be Metis. Well, that and a possible attempt to retain the right to prohibited or controlled weapons; some First Nations people are allowed exemptions. But that is surely doomed.

Defence is going over Hurren’s military history and work “he seems to have worked most if not all of his adult life”. Last I looked, so have most people and it’s not indemnification against criminal prosecution, nor is it inconsistent with actually committing crimes. Just look at Wall Street. “launched his own product, showed a bit of initiative” this is the Friendly Sausage Maker defence. Leaves out the part about failing in business and losing his job in disputatious circumstances.

Oh, and he was in the Lion’s Club; surely this must be the first time membership there is used as a defence in court, no?

“Things started going wrong for Mr Hurren in the fall of 2019” but apparently there’s some murkiness around how exactly he lost his job. It appears that he and his employer do not agree whether he quit, was fired, or got laid off. It’s unclear how he supported his family after that; whether his wife’s salary covered their expenses, if he was on EI or welfare, or if, for a time, the business carried them until it failed. He has said that once Covid hit he didn’t qualify for CERB; if his business failed because of the pandemic, he would qualify; if it failed for other reasons, he would not.

“Mr Hurren was anxious about his mother. It took Mr Hurren away from the business that he had left, dealing with these family issues”. And he got into financial difficulties in the Spring of 2020. He was already jobless and in financial hardship when #Covid19 came along.

Downward spiral “The truck payments had to be paid. This is not a truck; this is a truck that he was doing his business, and also a truck he was using for the Rangers” oh, now it’s He Did It For The Truck. [I should just colour-code this so all the class signifiers are in blue].

THINK OF THE SAUSAGES!
Your periodic reminder that Hurren is now claiming to be Metis.

His marriage was also breaking down, his family was under stress, and he was in ill health; neither Covid-related or government-related. And some of the firearms he owned were affected by new laws. “He’s dealing with these stressers, coping with the stresses, and along comes Covid.” Well, lots of us were under stress and didn’t make an armed invasion of the grounds of Rideau Hall.

Dr Gray’s opinion is that early in 2020 a stressful situation developed into a major depression. “There’s no delusional belief, nothing akin to schizophrenia… he is nevertheless looking at the world though the lens of a major depression”.

“You’ve gone from someone who seems to be a good productive member of society and you’ve ended up in Rideau Hall” this line is unintentionally hilarious.

“Mr Hurren is entitled to be sentenced on what he did, not what he might have done. And what he did is create a very dangerous situation. There’s no escape from that.” That’s very true.

“There was no aiming at anybody, there were no injuries. Mr Hurren made a series of bad decisions. But he ultimately made one correct decision: the decision to put those guns down” says defence, asking for credit for that action in and of itself.

I personally would credit those RCMP officers. A Lot.

“In the subsequent interview that day with the RCMP he thanked the officers for their restraint and apologized for putting them through the events of that day.” says the defence.

The defence is saying that most of the firearms laws are designed “for gangs” once again doubling down on the Friendly Sausage Maker Defence. I forgot he’s supposed to be Metis now, so it’s not the Middle Class White Man Defence anymore.

Now we’re referring back to specific legal precedents and this is not my strong suit, but I’ll do my best. Again reinforcing that mandatory minimums have been struck down.

The Defence is absolutely pushing this as a First Offence, disregarding Hurren’s previous criminal record from 1999.

Defence asks for roughly half the time the Crown asked for. And there’s a slight disagreement on exactly how much time Hurren has already been in custody, a matter of a few days. Apparently Hurren didn’t even attempt to seek bail.

I don’t know what Hurren’s 1999 criminal record stems from. “Consequences Mr Hurren is dealing with…his wife has commenced divorce proceedings…he has 2 children…the road back to access to his children is going to be a long and difficult one…” “The Rangers are pursuing his discharge, so that obviously brought him some enjoyment and income…that is gone.” You mean invading Rideau Hall with guns isn’t an automatic discharge? Huh.

“This is a case that will live on on the internet probably for the rest of his life, and he’ll have to deal with the consequences.” Yes indeed. “There will be whispers of ‘Oh, that’s the guy, that’s the guy.'”

Now the defence is discussing factors in rehabilitation: the guilty plea as a first step in taking responsibility.

Defence presents certificates that Hurren’s completed courses in anger management, understanding feelings, goal-setting (does he need more help on that), etc while in custody. Defence suggests that these be considered as mitigating factors in sentencing. And the defence admits these are “booklets” that are self-guided and that nobody is reviewing the booklets and he’s not getting feedback on them. “It’s better to have done this than not to have done this” he says, literally better than nothing.

“The fact that this gentleman [?] has no drug or alcohol problem” is just flat out an appeal to class prejudice, is it not?

“If there is one use to his previous conviction…it would appear from what he told me that he has if not completely given up drinking, largely given up drinking” Oh so he DOES have a history of criminal acts with alcohol involvement.

and as expected his official diagnosis of depression is brought up as a mitigating factor. And now Covid is introduced as a mitigating factor? “Be mindful of the fact that he has been for the past. since July 2 in this congregate setting with Covid.” So, basically, the defence is saying that #Covid19 itself is a reason people shouldn’t be sentenced to prison time or should be sentenced to less.

“Mr Hurren should be sentenced for what he did. My position on his behalf is that a sentence of three years is appropriate, less the year of pretrial custody”.

3:23 pm: The Defence rests.

Now the Prosecutor speaks: “In the absence of evidence that he went out and purchased [the illegal or restricted weapons] the court cannot default…” to assuming he purchased the weapons legally. The judge is asking for details about the weapons specifically and how they came into his hands. Inheritance, buying, how. The Defence says he hadn’t anticipated that it would be questioned.

The notion of rehabilitation: “Rehabilitation can’t be divorced from what you’re rehabilitating someone for…someone who commits offences because of drugs or alcohol can be rehabilitated” but what can Hurren be rehabilitated FROM asks the proscutor? Qanon, I’d suggest, but I’m not there.

Hurren does not make a statement when offered the opportunity by the judge.

The judge says he’s going to take time “over the coming few weeks” to think about the sentencing. The Prosecutor looks anxious at this. I think, lip-reading, they’re talking about two weeks. But the audio is blipping so badly I can basically only hear the occasional UH.

I would assume, given the Judge is off the Zoom call now, that the hearing is over, except that the defendant is still sitting there, as are the Prosecutor and the Defence. Okay, judge just said that he’s trying to find an appropriate date to schedule the ruling.

The Roommate thinks I needed my coverage of the sentencing hearing interrupted because Tiger Woods was in a car accident. He may be wrong about that. He may JUST be wrong about that.

and we’re back. Judge suggests March 10. 2pm March 10th for the final sentencing hearing. Virtual for the rest of the world. #cdnpoli It’ll be in a different courtroom, and with different Zoom coordinates.

And, as expected, the Hurren sentencing hearing ends mere minutes before the Trudeau-Biden virtual meeting, meaning it’s basically impossible for any reporter to cover both. Funny how that’s pretty much what happened the last time too.

Huh. How’d that happen?

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