Canada Victim's family outraged as Whistler killer gets seven-year jail sentence

19:32  06 december  2017
19:32  06 december  2017 Source:   Vancouver Sun

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Members of Luka Gordic’ s family are outraged at the seven - year prison sentence meted out to the killer of the Burnaby teen, storming out of a Vancouver courtroom in anger Tuesday as Arvin Golic learned of his fate.

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Members of Luka Gordic’s family are outraged at the seven-year prison sentence meted out to the killer of the Burnaby teen, storming out of a Vancouver courtroom in anger Tuesday as Arvin Golic learned of his fate.

At the outset of her ruling, after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mary Humphries announced she was sentencing Golic to seven years in prison for the manslaughter of the 19-year-old Gordic, there was a commotion in the high-security Vancouver courtroom.

People began shouting and Luka’s mother, Clara Gordic, approached the security glass that separated the public gallery from the front of the courtroom where Golic sat in the prisoner’s dock.

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She shouted at the accused and gave him the finger before being escorted by sheriffs out of the courtroom along with other members of her family.

Outside court later, the mother said that the sentence imposed on her son’s killer was “terrible” and sent the wrong message. She said she expected Golic to get at least 11 years in prison.

“My poor Luka, is this what his life is worth?” she said. “Seven years? Are you kidding?”

Clara Gordic said that when she approached the security glass, she had told Golic to “—- off.”

“I hope he never sees daylight. I hope the other inmates know what he did because what he did was uncalled for. It was so low, cowardly.”

The Gordic family’s fury is the latest in a series of cases in which B.C. families have been upset with the criminal justice system.

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On the weekend, the family of Amandeep Bath of Surrey, who was fatally shot in 2004, was outraged that a man convicted of killing their loved one was applying for supervised leave from prison just six months into his six-year sentence.

Then on Monday, the family of Bradley Dean, a cyclist who was killed in a collision with a vehicle in Richmond last year, was angry to learn the accused was only being charged with a motor vehicle offence, not criminal charges.

Paul Pearson, a criminal defence lawyer and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Victoria, said that with cases like the Gordic slaying, the system is often asked to fulfill the impossible task of restoring a family’s sense of normality and provide closure when it can never do that.

“We do not have a system where we punish those in a fashion that is eye for an eye. We have a complicated, well-developed sentencing regime in Canada that has evolved over hundreds of years and produces results which, if they don’t satisfy a family, should satisfy the community.”

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Pearson said judges have to consider a range of factors, including mitigating circumstances and the offender’s background and rehabilitation prospects in reaching an appropriate sentence.

“Both the Crown and defence in this case were asking for sentencing in the appropriate range,” he said of the Gordic case. “This is not a light-touch sentencing.”

Despite Tuesday’s sentencing being interrupted by the commotion, Justice Humphries proceeded and completed her reasons for sentence.

Golic, who was initially charged with second-degree murder in connection with the swarming and fatal stabbing of Gordic in Whistler in May 2015, was convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter. Golic, who was 18 at the time of the incident, was tried as an adult.

The judge said that while Golic instigated the attack, he did not know that knives would be used or that the victim would be killed and therefore did not have the necessary intent for murder.

The accused had become angry with Gordic because he wrongly assumed that Gordic was somehow involved in a relationship with Golic’s ex-girlfriend after Gordic told a friend of Golic to pass on a message that Golic should stop abusing the woman.

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Gordic had the motive, as ridiculous, uninformed and senseless as it was, said the judge, who noted that rather than cool down during the evening, Golic and his friends pursued Gordic until they found him in Whistler village and descended on him relentlessly.

“The attack was premeditated and planned. It was so cowardly, cruel and utterly pointless that it is difficult to comprehend and it resulted in the death of an innocent young man.”

The judge said she agreed with the Crown, which had called for a sentence of between nine and 11 years, that denunciation and deterrence were important sentencing principles.

“No sentence can undo or lessen the despair and misery that this crime has caused the family and friends of Luka Gordic. Retribution is a valid principle in the criminal law, whereas vengeance or revenge is not.”

The judge sentenced Golic to seven years in prison. The sentence will be reduced to five-and-a-half years because Golic is entitled to about 18 months of pre-sentence credit.

Outside court, Crown counsel Hank Reiner said that the decision didn’t come as a surprise or a shock. He said the judge’s reasons were thorough and she had canvassed all the points made in court.

“So I don’t think it’s appealable. It’s a bit lower than we had hoped and expected,” said Reiner.

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Regarding the commotion in the courtroom, Reiner — his voice choking up a bit — said that Luka Gordic was an “exceptional young man” who was swarmed and killed for less than a good reason.

“No one deserves to be killed that way, but I think we are particularly disturbed when it’s a young man with his life ahead of him.”

Matthew Nathanson, a lawyer for Golic, said it was a hard-fought case from start to finish and added that the court had a difficult decision to make.

“Sentencing is not a mathematical calculation, it involves balancing a host of competing considerations, to achieve a just and fair result. The judge did exactly that, and we respect her decision.”

Three other youths who were tried separately and also convicted in the Gordic slaying are to be sentenced in January.

kfraser@postmedia.com

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