Corey Neyrinck is running out of defence lawyers in the Fraser Valley.
At the last minute in BC Supreme Court on Monday — five-and-a-half years after he sexually abused two children and videotaped the crimes — Neyrinck’s lawyer told the judge that he had to step down for “ethical reasons.”
That was Neyrinck’s sixth lawyer.
“I became aware of some information Sunday night which causes me not to be able to carry out my duty to the court and Mr. Neyrinck,” defence lawyer Nathan Lidder said, before leaving the courtroom.
The court is unable to inquire what the ethical reason was, so Neyrinck was left without representation. He asked the court to adjourn the matter, yet again, for him to find a new lawyer.
Crown counsel Paul Blessin and Anna Tosso, however, asked Justice Lisa Warren to move on with the sentencing hearing, arguing that the constant delays were unfair to the victims and witnesses.
Tosso and Blessin added that since Neyrinck pleaded guilty and the sentence is a joint submission, not having a lawyer shouldn’t matter.
“There is a huge public interest to proceed even if it is without counsel,” Tosso said.
“The absence of counsel wouldn’t prejudice him,” Blessin said.
The case dates back to May 3, 2012, but a publication ban prevents details of any of the charges from being reported. He faced seven charges and eventually pleaded guilty to four of them: sexually touching a person under 16; sexually touching a person under 14; and one count each of producing and possessing child pornography.
Neyrinck is a one-time school board candidate who also served as vice-president of the district parents’ advisory council (DPAC).
He was brought into court on Monday wearing an ill-fitting suit, socked feet with his legs shackled. He is balding with a shaved head and he wore black-rimmed glasses.
“The police have video of him molesting a baby,” an exasperated friend of one victim’s mother said outside after the court hearing Monday. “Why don’t they throw the book at him?”
The joint submission for a sentence of seven years in prison was scheduled to be heard on May 5 of this year. At that appearance, his lawyer, David Ferguson, said he had to withdraw as counsel.
He didn’t say why, but some in attendance suspect the reason was that despite guilty pleas, Neyrinck does not want some of the facts read in open court. The mother of one of the victim’s said Neyrinck is manipulating the system.
“He’s not stupid,” she told The Progress. “He thinks the longer it’s delayed, the less time he will have to spend in actual prison.
“He’s a coward.”
She was prepared to read a victim impact statement in court on Monday.
Since 2012, Neyrinck has spent most of that time in custody, despite a period out of custody on bail during which he breached conditions by contacting the victim’s mother, and even faking a lie detector test. He was also caught in an RV with internet access, a further breach.
Because of that extended period in pre-trial custody, and the customary credit for 1.5-to-one for time served, even if sentenced this week Neyrinck would have only had one year and five months left to serve of the seven years.
Part of Crown’s concern with further delays is that he already will be sent to a provincial jail rather than federal, where there are better sex offender counselling programs. And even at the provincial level, experts say an offender needs at least 12 months in custody to get anything out of the programming, Blessin explained.
To that end, Neyrinck himself said he wanted sex offender counselling so he agreed on the record to extend the seven-year joint sentence if necessary to ensure he will spends at least 12 months in provincial custody.
Justice Warren expressed her concern with the repeated delays for witnesses, but she accepted Neyrinck’s request for an adjournment to find a new lawyer.
“I am satisfied that the importance of him having counsel outweighs other very serious concerns,” Warren said.
She did put limits on the adjournment, telling Neyrinck that once dates are set in the new year for sentencing, that sentencing will go ahead with or without defence counsel present.
“It has to be dealt with,” Warren said. “This is your last chance.”