More than a year after shooting renowned criminal lawyer Randall Barrs on Bedford Street near the St. George campus, Grayson Delong was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to four charges in connection to the shooting.
Barrs was shot in the leg twice while leaving his office at 23 Bedford Street on September 20, 2016. In an interview that he gave two months after the shooting, Barrs called the shooter “a coward” and said that he tried to run after him on one leg but then changed his mind. He was rushed to the hospital, and says he’s “95 per cent recovered now.”
At the time of the shooting, Delong was out of prison on bail and was being investigated by undercover officers from Halton Police Services. After Delong shot Barrs, the officers shot Delong in the neck. Delong survived, and was rushed to the hospital for recovery. Barrs has criticized the Halton Police for not acting sooner, and expressed his disappointment that it has yet to be revealed why Delong was under police surveillance.
According to Sergeant Dana Nicholas, the media relations officer from Halton Police Services, the police officers who had Delong under surveillance were involved in an investigation of non-violent property crime offences. “There was never any reason to expect that anyone was at risk of violence on the day of the incident,” she wrote in an email to The Varsity.
Justice John McMahon of the Ontario Superior Court was in charge of the sentencing and stated that the maximum sentence for aggravated assault, which is 14 years, would have been applied if it weren’t for Delong’s guilty plea. He was sentenced to 12 years in a federal penitentiary, but was given credit for the time he had already served in prison, so will serve nine years and seven months in prison.
Barrs refused to participate in the hearing and believed the sentencing was a miscarriage of justice. “What went down today would not have gone down if it was a Crown attorney that was shot or a judge or a police officer. This case would have been fully investigated,” Barrs told CBC.
No connection was found between Barrs and Delong. In September 2017, Barrs offered a $50,000 reward for information about the shooting, believing that someone had ordered the attack on him. Barrs also told CBC that the officers investigating Delong shouldn’t have allowed him to be present in a public area in the first place.
After the shooting, another criminal lawyer, James Morton, spoke to CBC about attacks on criminal lawyers. He helped write a safety manual for lawyers to protect them for workplace incidents, and said that threats to criminal lawyers aren’t uncommon.