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R. v. Larmond

Court Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Canada
Case number 2016 ONSC 5479
Decision title Comments on Sentence
Decision date 26 August 2016
  • Queen
  • Ashton Larmond
  • Carlos Larmond
  • Suliman Mohamed
Categories Terrorism
Keywords Attempted Travel, conspiracy, Foreign fighters, Islamic State, Preparatory Acts, Support
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On 26 August 2016, the Larmond brothers and Suliman Mohamed pleaded guilty to terrorist offences related to the Islamic State and Syria. They had planned to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State and had attempted this travel on several occasions. One of the twin brothers, Ashton Larmond, was the group’s leader and had previously had his passport revoked prior to heading to Syria via Turkey. His twin brother, Carlos Larmond, was arrested at the airport on his way to Syria, via India. Suliman Mohamed had planned to travel to Syria but had not been able to obtain a passport. In their sentencing remarks, Judge McKinnon compared home grown terrorists, such as the defendants, to “a particularly virulent form of cancer that must be aggressively eradicated”. Ashton was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, and Carlos and Suliman were both sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment. 

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Procedural history

The defendants were arrested in January 2015 as part of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation, known as Project Slipstream. The Larmond twin brothers appeared in Court on 10 January 2015, with Mr. Mohamed appearing on 13 January 2015. 

They pleaded guilty to differing terrorism charges on 26 August 2016:

  • Ashton Larmond pleaded guilty to “knowingly instructing persons to carry out activities for the purpose of enhancing terrorist activity” – s 83.21 of the Canadian Criminal Code;
  • Carlos Larmond pleaded guilty “to attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of committing an offence which, if committed in Canada, would involve knowingly contributing to or participating in terrorist activity” – s 83.181 of the Canadian Criminal Code; and
  • Suliman Mohamed pleaded guilty “to conspiring to enhance the ability of a terrorist group to carry out terrorist activity” – s 465(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code (Comments on Sentence, para. 1).

The Larmond brothers also pleaded guilty “to a series of offences involving threats of death to correctional officers … , unlawfully communicating with each other …, and threatening death to fellow inmates” (Comments on Sentence, para. 2).

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Legally relevant facts

Twin brothers Ashton and Carlos Larmond conspired with Suliman Mohamed between 1 August 2014 until 9 January 2015.

Ashton Larmond, who was described as the “main contributor to this terrorist activity” (Comments on Sentence, para. 3), had been in touch with another Canadian, John Maguire, who had already joined the Islamic State (IS), and he had attempted to travel to Syria previously. Prior to the revocation of his passport in 2013, he had attempted to fly to Syria via Turkey to join IS. Subsequently, he had planned to cross into Alaska, take a boat to Russia and from there head to Syria via Afghanistan. Ashton instigated the plans to join IS, and was described as an “organizer and director” of the terrorist activities.

Carlos Larmond was arrested as he was boarding a flight to India, via Frankfurt, with a presumed final destination of Syria and IS. He had previously sold his belongings online and was recorded in wiretaps as criticising moderate Islamic preachers. He is believed to have converted to extremist Islam as a result of his brother in 2014.

Suliman Mohamed had been trying to get a passport with the intention of travelling to Syria via Turkey in order to join IS but hadn’t yet obtained one. 

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Core legal questions

Taking into consideration the gravity of the crimes, the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, what are the appropriate sentences for the three defendants?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Sections 83.21, 83.181 and 465(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code (RSC 1985 c. C-46). 

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Court's holding and analysis

Judge McKinnon affirmed that the Ashton Larmond, Carlos Larmond and Suliman Mohamed had pleaded guilty to various terrorist offences, and other offences relating to their time in prison (Comments on Sentence, paras. 1-2).

The Judge then discussed the nature of the offences and labelled the defendants “‘home grown’ terrorists”, who he described as “a particularly virulent form of cancer that must be aggressively eradicated” (Comments on Sentence, para. 3). Judge McKinnon stated that involvement in jihadi terrorist activity “effectively [amounts] … to the crime of treason” and that joining IS “utterly [betrays] … the teachings of Islam and relentlessly and indelibly [sullies] … the name of the Islamic religion” (Comments on Sentence, para. 4). He further described followers of IS as “embracing the Devil” and as embodying “all the most odious forms of human frailty” (Comments on Sentence, para. 4).

The fact that the defendants all pleaded guilty prior to the commencement of a trial and that they have demonstrated regret for their actions was then mentioned (Comments on Sentence, para. 5).

Ashton Larmond was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment in relation to the terrorism charges and the additional time for his other convictions was to be served concurrently (Comments on Sentence, paras. 7-9). Carlos Larmond was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment with additional time in relation to the other charges (Comments on Sentence, paras. 10-12). Suliman was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment (Comments on Sentence, paras. 13-14). 

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Instruments cited

Canadian Criminal Code (RSC 1985 c. C-46) 

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Additional materials