A Dartmouth man who has been on remand for more than 20 months has been given a further 254 days in jail, followed by two years’ probation, after accepting responsibility for a half-dozen criminal offences involving young women who were being pimped out by his family.
Andre Jerome Gray, 24, pleaded guilty this summer in Halifax provincial court to two charges of sexual assault and single counts of intimidating a justice system participant, receiving material benefits from human trafficking, breaching probation and breaching a court order.
He was sentenced last week by Judge Perry Borden, who accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from lawyers for a 42-month sentence less remand credit.
Borden agreed with counsel that Gray should get an additional reduction of about 4.5 months in recognition of the harsh conditions he endured while in solitary confinement for 267 days.
A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled this summer that Gray’s time in segregation at the Dartmouth jail was unlawful and had to end.
In his sentencing decision, Borden said he was initially “somewhat taken aback” by the shortness of the recommended jail term.
“But for the joint recommendation, I would have done something completely different than what counsel were suggesting here today,” he said.
Borden said his acceptance of the joint recommendation was driven by the trauma Gray was exposed to during his adolescence and early adulthood.
That trauma, the judge said, included seeing his cousin die after a shooting in North Preston in 2011, and his experience within the criminal justice system.
“It’s unfortunate that you’ve experienced the sort of remand time that you’ve experienced,” Borden told Gray. “Suffice it to say your time on remand has been noticeably different than other people who are on remand while awaiting trial or sentencing.
“In the circumstances, I will agree with counsel that what is being proposed is a fit and appropriate disposition, however, it is on the fringe of the low end (of the range).”
Gray committed the offences between March 2018 and April of this year.
The judge said the most aggravating crimes were the sexual assaults – one involving rape and the other touching – on two young women working in the sex trade.
Gray was on probation at the time. He also admitted taking a portion of the money earned by one of the women on one occasion.
In addition, Gray pleaded guilty to phoning a third woman from jail last February in an attempt to convince her not to testify against members of his family who were awaiting trial on human trafficking charges, and to having more contact with her in March and April.
Crown attorney Cory Roberts said Gray came before the court with a “significant” criminal record, including nine convictions for violent offences.
In April 2014, Gray was charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and other offences after a 15-year-old girl said she was held against her will in the basement of a home in North Preston. Rather than go to trial, he pleaded guilty to charges of assault and forcible confinement and was sentenced in February 2016 to time served.
In March 2017, Gray and one of his older brothers, Leslie Burton Gray, were arrested on allegations of forcing a young woman to engage in prostitution and profiting from her sexual services. Andre Gray pleaded guilty that November to uttering threats and was sentenced to time served and three years’ probation.
Last March, Leslie Gray and three other members of his family – brother Justin, mother Robin and sister Laura – were sentenced in Halifax provincial court on a variety of pimping-related charges.
Leslie Gray pleaded guilty to four counts of human trafficking and was sentenced to seven years in prison less remand credit, leaving him with a net sentence of five years and almost six months.
Justin Gray was handed a sentence of five years and one month on his charges, which include two counts of receiving financial benefit from human trafficking and single counts of human trafficking and breaching a court order by repeatedly contacting one of the victims from jail.
Robin Gray was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to three charges of receiving financial benefit from human trafficking. That was on top of the time she’d spent in custody since July 2019.
Laura Gray received a conditional sentence of two years less a day, followed by two years’ probation. She pleaded guilty to assaulting one of the complainants and possessing more than $5,000 in property obtained by the commission of an indictable offence.
Borden noted that Andre Gray was given up by his biological mother at an early age and after reuniting with his family many years later, mimicked their criminal behaviour.
“I would simply suggest to you, sir, that that type of path has no future for you,” the judge told Gray.
While on probation, Gray must take part in any counselling deemed necessary by his probation officer and is not allowed to have contact with the three victims. The judge also ordered him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and banned him from ever having firearms.