A former Canadian Army corporal who sexually violated an unconscious woman colleague and recorded video of the episode and recorded another woman colleague using the toilet was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday. But under a provision of Canadian military justice, Colin McGregor was allowed to immediately file his notice of intention to appeal, apply for release pending that appeal and walk free.
Two red-capped members of the military police, on hand to take McGregor into custody, ended up with nothing to do.
Military judge Cmdr. J.B.M. Pelletier said release pending appeal had been granted in even more serious offences, including murder. No evidence existed to indicate McGregor is a danger to the public. Appeals, he said, can take six or eight months to two years.
Earlier Thursday, Pelletier sentenced the 36-year-old man, now living in Onoway, Alta., to three years in prison. He also discharged him with disgrace from the Canadian Armed Forces, a sentence that means McGregor will never work again for “Her Majesty’s government.”
In delivering sentence, Pelletier noted members of the Canadian Armed Forces must trust one another. Their professions mean they are willing to put their lives at risk. “They should not face additional threats from their brothers and sisters in arms. Cpl. McGregor, what you have done to colleagues you befriended is just sick.”
Pelletier convicted McGregor in a court martial at CFB Esquimalt on Monday of five charges — sexual assault, two counts of voyeurism, one count of possessing a recording device and one count of disgraceful conduct, a military offence.
The crimes occurred between July 1, 2011, and Jan 30, 2017, in Victoria and in Alexandria, Virginia, where McGregor lived while working as a clerk with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in Washington, D.C.
Canadian military police, co-operating with police in Alexandria, acting with the authority of a search warrant granted in Virginia, searched McGregor’s residence. Seized were a number of devices, including a laptop and computer hard drive.
The equipment revealed recordings of an unconscious woman on the floor of a bathroom being sexually touched. Another revealed the same woman in an intimate encounter in a bedroom.
McGregor recorded video of the woman unconscious in the bathroom of her home. She had invited him over as a friend to play video games and have a drink. When she awoke she was on the couch dressed, with McGregor touching her. The friendship ended.
The same woman was recorded being intimate with a man in the bedroom of her home. McGregor recorded the two from outside, through a window.
Another recording showed a different woman using the toilet. McGregor positioned cameras disguised as smoke detectors and an alarm clock in his own bathroom. He invited the woman into his home.
On another occasion, the woman asked him to feed her fish while she was away and gave him her key. He used the favour as a chance to position recording devices around her home, including her bedroom.
Both women were Canadian Armed Forces colleagues and friends of McGregor and of similar rank. Identities of the women is protected by the court.
The two women attended the court martial on Tuesday to have their victim-impact statements heard. The woman recorded on the toilet and whose home was planted with recording devices has suffered long-term emotional and psychological harm. She gets panic attacks when she must use a toilet outside her own home. She was once outgoing and cheerful; she is now suspicious and withdrawn. She is in therapy and has been diagnosed with PTSD.
The other woman read her victim impact statement herself. She spoke directly to McGregor, who wouldn’t look up.
“I was an easy target because I trusted you,” she said. “Now the thought of your hands touching my body disgusts me.
“You truly are a coward and even now you can’t even look at me,” she said. “You now have the audacity to try and weasel your way out of your crimes.”
The woman said for the sake of her mental well-being and that of her family, she will do her best to forgive him. “I can’t hold hate in my heart forever, not for you. I actually feel sorry for you and your pitiful existence. I hope you can control your vile and disgusting urges and somehow integrate back into society.”
When Pelletier delivered his sentence, he made a point of explaining Canadian military justice will deliver only one global sentence. This is unlike civilian courts that impose sentences for each offence and then rule if the time should be served together, concurrently or consecutively.
Pelletier made a point in his sentencing address of adding the discharge with disgrace to the voyeurism offences. He called it the strongest denunciation the Canadian Armed Forces can deliver.
“You have rendered yourself unworthy of service,” he told McGregor.