Man with prior manslaughter conviction can't be banished from Sask. village: appeal court

·3 min read
The Court of Appeal said the sentencing judge went too far. (Saskatchewan Law Courts - image credit)
The Court of Appeal said the sentencing judge went too far. (Saskatchewan Law Courts - image credit)

The province's top court says a sentencing judge went too far in banishing a man with a past conviction for manslaughter from a southern Saskatchewan village.

Nikki Sixx Serafino pleaded guilty in September 2020 to a charge of criminal harassment, following what a court document called "a campaign of harassing and intimidating conduct."

That included ensuring people in the village of Abernethy knew he had killed before, the court document says.

He was sentenced to one year, less 71 days for time on remand, for the harassment, to be followed by 18 months probation.

The probation order included, among other things, a condition that prohibited him from being in the village of Abernethy "unless he has the prior written permission of his probation officer or designate or the court," according to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling.

Serafino appealed that term of his probation order.

The appeal court agreed and struck that provision.

2012 manslaughter conviction

The appeal court ruling laid out the background of the criminal harassment charge and Serafino's troubled history in British Columbia.

Serafino and his partner moved from B.C. to Abernethy in May 2019. It was less expensive to live in the village, about 100 kilometres southwest of Yorkton, than to remain on the West Coast.

Serafino also had a significant criminal history in B.C., including a conviction for manslaughter in 2012.

Serafino was arrested in April 2010 and originally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting of a man in Surrey, B.C.

News stories at the time noted that Serafino was a fan of the rock band Motley Crue and had legally changed his name to match that of the band's bass player, Nikki Sixx.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to six years.

He also had a prior conviction for criminal harassment in 2002 and convictions for uttering threats in 2007 and 2010, the appeal ruling said.

'Come out of retirement'

The trouble in Abernethy began about six months after Serafino bought a house on an acreage, the court document said. It all turned on a set of propane tanks that Serafino had moved onto his property.

The tanks did not comply with the village bylaws. A member of council hand-delivered a letter to that effect.

"[The councillor] opened the door to the residence and placed the letter inside. Mr. Serafino viewed this as an unlawful entry of his home and let [the councillor] know of his displeasure. Things went downhill from there," according to the court document.

"Over the course of the next six months, Mr. Serafino engaged in a campaign of harassing and intimidating conduct."

Mr. Serafino made reference, on more than one occasion, to the fact that he'd killed someone in the past and suggested that he may have to 'come out of retirement.' - Court document

Part of this campaign included letting everyone in the village know he was capable of lethal violence.

"Mr. Serafino made reference, on more than one occasion, to the fact that he'd killed someone in the past and suggested that he may have to 'come out of retirement.'"

In June, he was charged with criminal harassment after the targeted councillor heard an intoxicated Serafino talking loudly on a phone, saying that he was "planning on getting a gun" and that when he did so, he would not hesitate to walk into the house of "that f---tard" and "gun them down."

The sentencing judge described his behaviour as "intimidating, confrontational, aggressive, threatening, frightening and at times even terrifying."

The Court of Appeal ruled that the sentencing judge made the mistake of banishing Serafino without giving his lawyer the chance to argue against it. The Crown had not asked for that provision.

"It was an error for the sentencing judge to impose a term of probation — banishment from the community — that was not part of the submissions by counsel and not the subject of an invitation for counsel to make further submissions."