Court briefs

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Canada Day stabbing will see attacker go to prison

A Winnipeg man who stabbed two people who had been “minding their own business” during Canada Day festivities has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Saull imposed the sentence based on the Crown’s recommendation Wednesday, but the judge said he believed Kevin Bunn could have faced a higher penalty for causing the death of a 25-year-old man and severely injuring a 31-year-old man. 

Bunn, then 25, stabbed 25-year-old Tanner Beaulieu seven times during a fight near The Forks on July 1, 2014. Beaulieu died of his injuries and the other victim would have died if not for the urgent medical treatment he received, court heard. Bunn didn’t know his victims. They were with separate groups of people outside the Via Rail station on Main Street as large crowds gathered to join in the Canada Day celebrations. Beaulieu and his group were looking for a spot to sit and watch the fireworks when a woman in Bunn’s group insulted a woman in Beaulieu’s group, court heard. The unkind comment provoked a fight between the two groups, which turned deadly when Bunn pulled out a knife.

He was affiliated with a street gang and had the knife despite court orders prohibiting him from possessing weapons, court heard.

Bunn was initially charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, but a jury instead found him guilty of the lesser charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault. His defence lawyers told the judge Bunn had always intended to take responsibility for those charges.

Saull said he ultimately agreed with the Crown’s recommendation that Bunn serve 10 to 12 years in prison, but he said the sentence could have been higher.

 

“I would have thought that something in the range of 15 years or more would have been appropriate given the totality of the circumstances. It must be remembered here that there’s not one but two victims. There was a total of eight or nine stab wounds administered with considerable force on two people who were simply, as I’ve said more than once, minding their own business.”

Bunn has about nine years left to serve.

 

Roommate attacker had no intent to kill

A man who admitted to stabbing his roommate but successfully argued he never meant to kill him blamed the victim in front of his sentencing judge, saying the stabbing would never have happened if the roommate had simply followed house rules.

Ronald Murphy, 57, received a five-year sentence Wednesday for the attack on his 44-year-old roommate in their Redwood Avenue home in March 2015.

Murphy was initially charged with attempted murder but was found guilty, instead, of aggravated assault after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sadie Bond determined there was not enough evidence to suggest he had set out to kill the other man. She imposed the sentence on the lesser charge after noting Murphy’s victim-blaming attitude.

“What happened to (the victim) should not have happened. When I asked Mr. Murphy if he had any comment (during the sentencing hearing), he said that if (his roommate) had followed the house rules, we wouldn’t be here,” the judge said. “While that may be true in a literal sense, the comment shows an incredible lack of insight. It also calls into question Mr. Murphy’s remorse. He seemed to be blaming (the victim) for what happened.”

Murphy, who has a prior criminal record, also struggles with mental-health issues and had been a well-liked community volunteer before the stabbing, court heard.

“The corrections records submitted paint a picture of a man who has faced challenges in his life and who has struggled to manage them. His use of various drugs and alcohol has clearly been a contributing factor to his criminal history, as well as his history of breaching parole, and yet he does not acknowledge the problem and returns to using again and again,” Bond said.

As she urged Murphy to get help for his alcohol and drug abuse, the accused interjected.

“I was defending myself, that’s all I can say.

The roommates fought after Murphy came home around 4 a.m. to find the other man drinking with two young women, in violation of house rules that prohibited guests after 11 p.m., court heard. During a confrontation that included light punches from the inebriated victim, Murphy got a knife out of the sink and stabbed him twice in the back, causing a collapsed lung. The victim has fully recovered.

Murphy has two years left to serve.

 

Flame-throwing thief gets four years

A mentally ill drug addict who used a lighter and a can of hairspray to get away with stealing from local businesses has learned the explosive consequences of his actions.

Ivan Roulette, 25, has three years left to serve on a four-year sentence that was imposed Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery — a sentence that took into consideration the man’s psychosis and would have otherwise been “far too low” a penalty for blowing fireballs at unsuspecting store employees and security guards.

“The offences were bizarre and, I would suggest, unsophisticated,” defence lawyer Lori Van Dongen told court.

Roulette needed to feed the meth addiction he spiralled into after his mother died in March 2016, so he decided to steal from clothing stores and sell the stolen goods for meth, his lawyer said. As he tried to make a getaway after each theft — between March and June 2016 — he would spray the aerosol can in the air and light it ablaze, scaring away security guards who chased after him. He did that four times, at two Boathouse stores, a 7-Eleven and a Sport Chek in St. Vital, court heard. No one was hurt. Roulette managed to make off with a total of more than $300 worth of clothing and about $100 worth of food products before he was eventually arrested.

It was “obviously a bit of a sensational situation,” for employees at each business, said Crown attorney Lee Turner.

“It was fairly alarming and disturbing to anybody who was faced with this.”

Van Dongen said her client was only diagnosed with a mental illness after his arrest and is now taking medication for psychosis. She said doctors assessing him for a forensic report noted he was in self-destruct mode at the time of the robberies. He had previously served 3.5 years for robbery for a past offence.

Provincial court Judge Carena Roller said she agreed with the sentence jointly suggested by Crown and defence lawyers.

“This sentence would be far too low but for your very unique personal circumstances,” she told Roulette.

— Katie May

 

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