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Decide opens door for Edmonton romance fraudster to be assessed as harmful offender

“The offender seems to have an intentional disregard for a way his offending behaviour impacts his victims,” decide says

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A serial romance fraudster who financially preyed on girls to feed his playing dependancy might be assessed to find out whether or not he is perhaps deemed a harmful offender, an Edmonton decide has dominated.

Jeffrey Kent was dealt a serious blow final week when Courtroom of King’s Bench Justice Melanie Hayes-Richards granted a Crown utility to have Kent evaluated by psychological well being consultants to find out if he matches the factors of a harmful or long-term offender.

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If the Crown is in the end profitable, Kent — who pleaded responsible to defrauding 5 girls of practically $170,000 — might be imprisoned indefinitely. Specialists beforehand instructed Postmedia there are few precedents for harmful offender functions in monetary crimes.

Hayes-Richards, nevertheless, discovered Kent meets the factors to not less than be assessed.

“The offender seems to have an intentional disregard for a way his offending behaviour impacts his victims,” she wrote within the Nov. 1 choice. “He is aware of that his behaviour inflicts psychological hurt on his victims, but that truth doesn’t deter him from participating in the identical behaviour time and again.”

“Left untreated, the offender is prone to interact in the identical behaviour once more, which is prone to trigger extreme psychological harm to any one who turns into a goal of (his) schemes.”

Kent has been in custody since late 2017 after being arrested for a collection of romance frauds that started the 12 months prior.

He pleaded responsible to the frauds in 2022 however later tried to recant, claiming he was coerced into pleading responsible. Hayes-Richards tossed Kent’s utility after discovering no proof for the declare.

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In an agreed assertion of details, Kent admitted to sham relationships with 5 girls he met via the courting app Loads of Fish. He created faux personas to ingratiate himself with the ladies, variously telling them he was a lawyer, a scholar of authorized ethics, a development firm CEO and the proprietor of a horse farm. He instructed a number of he had mind most cancers or a seizure dysfunction. Finally, he requested the ladies for cash, promising a fast reimbursement as soon as an funding alternative panned out.

“Most often, he was spending their cash on the on line casino or on horse races,” Hayes-Richards wrote.

Whereas most harmful or long run offenders are convicted of violent crimes, Hayes-Richards mentioned violence will not be a prerequisite. All that’s wanted is a conviction on an indictable offence with a most sentence of 10 years or extra.

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The Crown should additionally show the crime was a “critical private damage offence,” that the accused has demonstrated a sample of behaviour that’s “considerably or pathologically intractable,” and that that sample poses “a possible danger of extreme psychological harm to different individuals.”

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Hayes-Richards mentioned the Crown met the take a look at on all counts. She mentioned Kent triggered every of his victims “long-term psychological hurt” that goes past mere financial loss.

Hayes-Richards additionally discovered Kent exhibited a sample of exploiting romantic relationships for monetary acquire. Between 1990 and 1996, he was convicted of 12 separate counts of fraud, two counts of tried fraud and 14 counts of theft. A relative lull got here between 1996 and 2008, when Kent served an 18-month jail sentence together with three 12 months’s probation, after which he racked up 10 extra fraud convictions between 2008 and 2019.

“The offender seems to have deeply ingrained character problems which can be resistant to alter and that lead him again to playing and deception,” Hayes-Richards wrote. “The offender has benefitted from vital therapy which has not deterred him from his offending behaviour. This implies that he’s tough to deal with. As such, it could be tough to estimate or predict a time-frame for enchancment or consider the outlook for enchancment.”

Hayes-Richards additionally summarized a wide range of feedback from judges who sentenced Kent prior to now. One mentioned Kent demonstrated “essentially the most deplorable leech-like behaviour.” One other mentioned he’s “typically contrite after being caught and reveals real regret” however nonetheless continues to defraud folks. A 3rd mentioned Kent shows “a level of incorrigibility and predatory conduct.”

She additionally paraphrased statements Kent has made about his crimes to courts and report writers. He admitted he would “return to the financial institution” each time he wanted cash, and that his playing dependancy “compels him to do some horrible, despicable issues and preserve sociopathic behaviour.”

Hayes-Richards ordered Kent be assessed by a professional professional inside 60 days. If she in the end deems him a harmful offender, Kent might be jailed indefinitely with no likelihood of parole for not less than seven years.

Jeinis Patel, Kent’s lawyer, didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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