A Whitehorse man whose dangerous offender designation was overturned by the Yukon Court of Appeal earlier this year was re-sentenced May 29.
Mark Lange, convicted of assault causing bodily harm for an unprovoked beating of another man outside the old Salvation Army building in 2014, has now been designated a long-term offender.
Territorial court deputy judge Timothy White also sentenced Lange, now 43, to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment followed by a 10-year-long supervision order.
Given credit for time he’s already served, Lange will only spend an additional six months in jail.
The new sentence, including the long-term offender designation, was the result of a joint submission by Crown attorney Noel Sinclair and Lange’s defence lawyer Vincent Larochelle and focuses on Lange’s potential of being rehabilitated.
Under the dangerous offender designation Lange, who has a criminal record dating from 1990 that’s peppered with violent offences including a manslaughter conviction, had faced the prospect of an indefinite period in jail.
Before formally sentencing him, White took several minutes to address Lange directly.
“As a child and as an adolescent, you didn’t have a chance … I understand that you’re trying very hard to change,” White said.
Lange replied that he was, and that he began to self-reflect after he was arrested for the beating and his grandmother asked him why he kept going back to jail.
“I looked back to Day 1,” he said. “My first day in court was when I was three days old. That’s where it started … Forgiveness is my half too. I have to sit there and learn why I’m so angry.”
White said he noticed, in reading documents filed to the court, that Lange has began taking medication for attention-deficit disorder, which has allowed him to “think more deeply about his anger,” connected more with his First Nations heritage, completely abstained from drugs and alcohol in jail and has taken every program available to him.
The judge also described Lange as someone with “considerable intelligence” as well as a gifted artist, and, if he continues on his current path of bettering himself, someone deserving of a better life.
However, White also cautioned Lange about the challenges lying ahead, describing the court proceedings as a “pivotal event” — should he turn back to alcohol and commit another violent offence, he will most likely be re-designated as a dangerous offender and face an indefinite sentence again.
“You probably have experienced this in your life … The biggest risk comes not when you fail but after you succeed,” he said.
“In the aftermath of that, it’s often followed by depression … I hope you remember that because that’s the real risky part.”
White left Lange with two Spanish words — “porque” and “si.”
Both words have two meanings depending on how they’re pronounced, the judge said — ”porque” can mean “why” and “because,” while “si” can mean “yes” and “if.”
So often, White said, people ask, “Why? ‘Porque?’”
“The answer is there,” he said. “‘Porque.’ Because.”
“… (And) when we commit ourselves to something, ‘Yes,’ also remember that ‘si’ also means ‘if.’”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org