A Vancouver man convicted of luring and pimping out underage girls has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and given a lifetime ban from using the internet.
Two weeks before his sentencing, Michael Bannon pleaded guilty to 22 criminal charges, including sexual interference.
The 35-year-old man admitted that he used the internet to contact girls as young as 14 years old and persuaded them to meet him at hotels in downtown Vancouver with false promises of modelling work. Once there, he would give them drugs and sell them to men who had responded to online ads he had posted.
On Wednesday, Bannon was handed a hefty sentence of 14 years in prison less time served – a punishment usually reserved for crimes such as manslaughter. Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers agreed to recommend the 14-year sentence to the judge in order to spare Bannon’s young victims from the additional trauma of testifying during a trial.
Geordie Proulx, the lead prosecutor, told CTV Vancouver that he hopes the lengthy sentence will act as a warning for other criminals.
“If 14 years doesn’t deter someone of like mind, I don’t know what will,” he said outside the courthouse on Wednesday.
Diane Sowden, a victims’ advocate with the Children of the Street Society, applauded the court’s decision to ban Bannon from using the internet.
“The weapon that he used was the internet, so of course take that weapon away,” she said.
Parents should speak with their children about their online activity and the dangers of interacting with strangers online, Sowden advised.
“Parents have to realize that this can happen overnight,” she said. “That’s literally what happened with some of his [Bannon’s] victims.”
Bannon has been in custody since 2015, which means he will serve 10 years in prison.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson