'Egregious': Alberta judge sentences teen to time served for part in revenge killing

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DRUMHELLER, Alta. — An Alberta teen who played a role in the 2017 revenge murder of her drug dealer was sentenced Friday to the time she has already served.

The girl, who was 15 at the time, was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit murder. She cannot be identified under the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Her boyfriend, Dylan Howard, who was 21 at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Fazal Rehman.

Rehman, 36, provided drugs to the couple and had sexually assaulted the teen.

An agreed statement of facts says Rehman was lured to a rural location north of Drumheller, Alta., where Howard shot him with a hunting rifle and then stabbed him in the chest. He then set Rehman's car on fire.

Court heard the teen and Howard were upset about the sexual assault and killed him as revenge.

She had spent 466 days in custody and has been released on strict bail conditions.

Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall agreed with both the Crown and defence lawyers that the time behind bars was sufficient. He added a year's probation and a two-year ban on owning a firearm.

Crown prosecutor Mac Vomberg acknowledged that she has struggled with drug addiction and had a dysfunctional and difficult upbringing, including being sexually assaulted by her father when she was four.

"The impact on her was clearly dramatic, and negative and long term," Vomberg said.

But he noted that she provided the hunting rifle used in the killing, helped lure the victim to the remote area, and helped hide the rifle and knife used in the attack.

"While we remain with the picture of somebody who has been very abused by people in her life she's not the complete innocent victim she seems to portray herself as," Vomberg said.

Defence lawyer Andrea Urquhart said a key facet of the youth justice system is rehabilitation and reintegration.

"Certainly when we're dealing with young people, a 466-day jail sentence is a significant one," she said.

"Being a victim has impacted her experience and did cause her as a teenager to go down certain paths where she talks about drug use and drug abuse and she gets herself involved in a number of these types of relationships."

Hall said the prospects for rehabilitation were good, she pleaded guilty and has expressed genuine remorse.

"And the child she was, at 15 years old, was indeed a victim of her upbringing and her relationship," Hall said.

"She did not take a part in the murder or the setting of the fire, but she was involved in hiding the murder weapon. The harm done was egregious. Mr. Rehman was murdered."

In a victim impact statement read into the hearing, Sadia Rehman said life is no longer as it should be and her husband's death would be easier to accept if it had been from natural causes.

"Since his life was taken from him, not according to God, it is much more difficult to accept. We were unable to say our final goodbyes, to have proper closure," she wrote.

"My youngest daughter barely remembers him. She looks at the photos saved on my phone and asks 'why does my daddy never come back.' All of the beautiful dreams are gone. Never to be completed."

The teen did not address the court.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary.

The Canadian Press