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Sentencing kicks off for man charged with Steveston child-luring attempt

Judge, prosecution raised concerns about housing for Peter Andrew Wehren, 32, after his release.
Richmond Provincial Court 1
Peter Andrew Wehren was charged with two counts of attempting to lure a child under 16 years old via telecommunication and seven counts of breaching release conditions.

A man who pleaded guilty to trying to lure a child using Snapchat will be sentenced this week.

Peter Andrew Wehren, 33, faced two charges of trying to lure a child under 16 via telecommunication and seven charges for breaching release conditions.

Wehren initially appeared in person in Richmond Provincial Court on June 10 for his sentencing hearing but later switched to a video appearance. His father and sister were present in the courtroom.

He pleaded guilty on April 3 to one count of attempting to lure a child between Feb. 14 and 21 and three counts of going to a public park between February and March in breach of his release conditions.

The court heard Wehren had happened upon a group of kids on a bus in Richmond around December 2023. They engaged with one another and when Wehren offered to buy them alcohol, the kids took him up on the offer.

"There began a relationship in which (Wehren) would buy alcohol for the young people ... and they would meet in Steveston Park in Richmond, B.C.," explained Crown prosecutor Patrick Fullerton.

From Feb. 14 to 21, Wehren communicated with a 14-year-old girl in the group over Snapchat and other social media apps, asking her to go shopping for women's underwear with him and to go on a date, all of which were rejected by the girl.

When the girl replied with, "Bro, u r 32," Wehren told her "age is just a number," in addition to sending her a photo of himself wearing women's underwear. 

Their communication would cease after Feb. 21. A publication ban is in place to protect the identities of the victim and witnesses.

On Feb. 21, Richmond RCMP received a call at around 6:30 p.m. and attended Steveston Park, where the parents of some of the kids had apprehended Wehren after he invited the kids to meet up for drinks.

Wehren was released on Feb. 22 and returned to Steveston Park on Feb. 23 in breach of his release conditions. He was arrested and released again on Feb. 29, until he was arrested again on March 3 for drinking in a playground.

Wehren was subsequently released on March 4 and arrested one last time on March 8 for being in a park in Strathcona. He was denied bail on March 14 and remained in custody until Monday (June 10).

'Very low' scores for intelligence assessment

During the sentencing hearing on Monday afternoon, the prosecution sought a total of 101 days in jail plus one extra day for all of Wehren's charges.

Wehren had spent 68 actual days in jail, which amounts to 102 days including enhanced credit.

He would not have to serve more time further than what he has served, the prosecution clarified.

The prosecution highlighted "several red flags" from Wehren's psychological assessment and pre-sentence report, including his "great difficulty" in remembering events, his tendency to minimize his conduct and his lack of a concrete plan for housing following his release.

Fullerton told Richmond Provincial Court Judge Rose Raven that Wehren had scored "very low" in his intelligence assessment.

"It was one of the lowest (scores) I've seen in a long time," he said, adding it was a "red flag" for Wehren's ability to comprehend the severity of his actions.

A lengthy probation would help Wehren better understand the wrongfulness of his conduct and remind him of his obligations, Fullerton added.

He also told the court Wehren's conduct had a "lasting impact" on the victim, who knows things could have turned out worse, and one of the witnesses' mother now suffers from anxiety about her children's social life following the events.

Preparing for housing after release

Wehren's plan for accommodation post-release, or the lack thereof, was the focus of the sentencing hearing on Monday.

Both prosecution and defence emphasized the impact of alcohol use on Wehren's conduct throughout the events of the case. The court heard he is unable to live with his father and sister and there is currently no treatment centre lined up for him, despite reports recommending he be admitted to treatment for substance use.

The prosecution referred to Wehren's pre-sentence report, where his sister stated he was "taken advantage by" people he considered friends, and explained Wehren would be vulnerable to influence if released to a situation such as the Downtown Eastside.

When asked about the lack of planning for Wehren's release, defence lawyer Eric Warren explained Wehren has to make phone calls himself and that he has less options available due to the fact he was charged with a sexual offence.

"I hesitate to blame him, because it seems to me that he needs help to do this," said Judge Raven when noting the lack of arrangements for Wehren's release, explaining Wehren is facing barriers including "intellectual deficits."

Defence, however, said Raven's reservations about Wehren's post-release plans shouldn't be the reason to keep him in jail.

It could take "weeks" for Wehren to find an appropriate place to stay, Warren explained, and holding him in jail would also make it difficult for him to contact potential treatment facilities.

Raven directed the parties to contact potential facilities to seek a solution for Wehren's release and adjourned the sentencing hearing.

The sentencing will continue on Wednesday.

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