MONTREAL -- Nigel Hamer, the so-called sixth man involved in the 1970 kidnapping of former British trade commissioner James Cross, has been sentenced to one year in jail and placed on three year's probation.
Chief Sessions Court Judge Yves Mayrand said in sentencing Hamer Thursday he had been lenient because the 32-year-old high school engineering teacher had established himself in society and had already spent 10 years 'of anguish.'
'This measure of clemency represents an act of confidence in the accused and in a Quebec society which has found peace and understands moderation and reflection,' Mayrand said.
Hamer pleaded guilty in November to charges of kidnapping, extortion, conspiracy and forcible detention in the Cross abduction.
He was arrested last July after years of speculation that a sixth Front de Liberation du Quebec terrorist had been involved in the Cross abduction. Five others were allowed free passage out of the country in exchange for Cross' release.
The incident, together with the FLQ kidnap-murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, touched off modern Canada's worst peacetime crisis.
'It is true he (Hamer) stayed in the country and that his life was not easy since he was becoming known and felt he was being followed, if not cornered, by the police,' Mayrand said of the British-born father of two.
Mayrand said he had considered arguments by Crown prosecutor Jean-Pierre Bonin that Hamer must be punished for the Oct. 5, 1970, abduction with a sentence befitting an act of terrorism with international repercussions.
But, he noted, 'Nigel Hamer played a role of participant. The courts have always recognized a difference between planners and participants.'
Hamer, who will be eligible for parole in September, must also do a total of 240 hours of volunteer work for a biomedical engineering institute during the probation, Mayrand ruled.
'The more I reflect on it, I realize this could have been any young man in 1968-69 and the more I must admit that his participation in this adventure could have been the lot of many, of hundreds of other young people living in Quebec during the same period,' the judge said.
Five FLQ members elected voluntary exile in Cuba in December 1970 in exchange for the safe release of Cross after he had been held captive for 59 days. The group later entered self-imposed exile in France.
Jacques and Louise Cossette-Trudel returned to Montreal in 1978 and were sentenced to two years less one day in jail after pleading guilty to kidnapping, conspiracy, extortion and forcible detention.
Jacques Lanctot, the brother of Louise Cossette-Trudel, returned to Quebec in January 1979. He was sentenced to three years in jail with probation until November 1982 after he pleaded guilty to the same four charges.
Marc Carbonneau has also indicated a desire to return to Canada but authorities say they do not have a specific date for such a return. Should Carbonneau return, only one of the group, Yves Langlois, would remain in France.