Judge pokes holes in nanny trafficking case 0
Franco Orr is sentenced to 18 months in jail for human trafficking, bringing Leticia Sarmiento to Canada to work as a nanny in 2009. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A B.C. Supreme Court judge is taking issue with circumstances around a Vancouver man’s guilt after his jury conviction last month for bringing his nanny from Hong Kong to Canada to work illegally.
Franco Orr was found guilty in July of organizing illegal entry into Canada, unauthorized employment of a foreign national, and misrepresenting facts.
He appeared again in court on Wednesday with his wife, Nicole Huen, who was co-accused in the case and found not guilty. The federal Crown is seeking five to six years for his offences. Defence is seeking a conditional sentence.
But Justice Richard Goepel is taking issue with what prosecutor Peter LaPrairie described as “aggravating factors” in the case, including Filipina nanny Leticia Sarmiento’s working conditions — described as 16-hour daily shifts — the amount of money she made, and whether she was truly isolated from the outside world while working for the family in 2009 and 2010.
According to evidence from police, LaPrairie said, Orr even withheld Sarmiento’s passport. The judge disagreed that was undeniable proof, however, as she “clearly had it in her possession” when she was at a Lower Mainland bank.
“In (the) movie theatre they left her in public with a phone … nobody was watching her in the context of true isolation — never being alone. (But) certainly in that occasion, she was,” the judge said.
Goepel also pointed to two payments Sarmiento made to the Philippines in September and October 2009, when she sent $800 and $1,400, respectively. He questioned whether she would have enough savings to do that, since she had been making $500 a month at the time.
LaPrairie argued that if the numbers were broken down, she could have saved up — noting Sarmiento would send larger amounts of cash during back-to-school season for her children’s supplies.
The judge continued, suggesting how many hours Sarmiento worked was never proven “beyond reasonable doubt,” explaining that evidence relating to working conditions were not required to secure a human trafficking conviction, which involves the act of bringing someone into the country illegally.
“Your position simply is, ‘It’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, move on,’” Goepel told the Crown.
Defence lawyer Nicholas Preovolos said Orr maintains he’s innocent.
“My instructions are not to express remorse on his behalf,” Preovolos told the court.
Sarmiento, meanwhile, observed the proceedings in court. A victim impact statement was read on her behalf, in which she described not having seen her children since 2007, and that she recently lost a new job as the employer believed she wasn’t legally allowed to work.
Orr next appears in court on Oct. 15.