Ottawa man Toby Land sentenced to time served, supervision order in 2009 killing

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Toby Land, 37, has been sentenced to time served and a long-term supervision order in the 2009 killing of Dominic Doyon. (Facebook - image credit)
Toby Land, 37, has been sentenced to time served and a long-term supervision order in the 2009 killing of Dominic Doyon. (Facebook - image credit)

An Ottawa man who bludgeoned his roommate to death has been sentenced to time served and a long-term supervision order, ending a legal saga that's lasted more than a decade.

Toby Land, 37, pleaded guilty in March to manslaughter for the 2009 killing of his roommate Dominic Doyon inside their fifth-floor apartment at 380 Murray St. He had originally been charged with second-degree murder and had previously been convicted by a jury before the appeal court ordered him a new trial.

His first trial heard that Land bludgeoned Doyon to death with a hammer over a relationship Doyon allegedly had with a teenage girl.

A second roommate, Carl St. Cyr, also participated in the attack and pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in the killing.

First trial ended in conviction, appeal granted

At the start of his first trial, Land also pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but prosecutors would not accept that plea. It is the same plea for which he was sentenced on Wednesday.

What followed instead, at the time, was a jury trial where jurors convicted him of second-degree murder.

In 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal granted Land a new trial, ruling his first trial judge erred when Land wasn't able to present the defence of provocation. Such a defence, if successful, would have meant he could have been found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.

The appeal court found Land to be a man "with a violent aversion to sexual abusers."

'Mr. Land is defined by more than this one terrible act'

Land has been in custody — off an on — for a total of 11 years, four months and 28 days for the offence.

Land's sentence was jointly offered to the court by his defence lawyer Ewan Lyttle and Crown prosecutor Carl Lem.

Lem told court the joint sentencing submission took into account the difficulties of running a murder trial during a pandemic and reflects Land's "rehabilitative potential."

"We acknowledge that Mr. Land is defined by more than this one terrible act," Lem said. "We hope that this final resolution will give him an opportunity to heal and move on, just as we hope it will be an opportunity for Mr. Doyon's family to heal and move on, as well."

Lyttle told the court of the intergenerational trauma that continues to haunt Land.

His mother, from Wabaseemoong (White Dog) First Nation, was taken from her family by the government and put into foster care.

She moved from a remote part of Ontario, Lyttle said, to the bigger city of Ottawa. She tried to raise six children — five sons and one daughter — on her own "in a city where the trappings of addiction loomed large."

Land's father was a residential school survivor who suffered abuse, "passed that trauma down," and ultimately "inflicted that same abuse onto his own son," Lyttle said.

It left Land with "a host of mental health issues."

Recent psychiatric assessments show he's progressing positively, Lyttle said. He's remained employed since being released on bail awaiting his sentencing, and has stopped drinking.

'I've just been messed up my whole life'

Land stood and addressed court, wearing a dark suit.

"My first memory is what my dad did to me," he said. "I've just been messed up my whole life."

He told court: "No matter what you're going through, you learn to heal by talking about it."

He said he's thankful for Doyon's family.

Family tells court of the burden of their grief

Manon Doyon has had 12 years to wrestle with what happened to her son. Her victim impact statement was translated from French into English and read aloud by the prosecutor.

She told court how she lost her way and her light after the brutal death of her son. She was robbed of her chance to say goodbye, or one last "I love you."

She was angry about what happened to him, but felt guilty, too, for living when he couldn't.

Every morning was a "burden" as she grappled with her grief and depression.

"Today, I don't want to hear those voices seeking revenge anymore. Sometimes it's hard to forgive but doing so takes a weight off your mind."

In his victim impact statement, which was also read by the prosecutor, Doyon's child, who was nine years old when Doyon was killed, told the court how his father never got to know him as a man.

He transitioned from female to male when he was in high school and homeless. He couldn't look to his dad to teach him how to shave.

"I was nine years old when I first learned I could never truly trust the people around me and something dangerous could happen in an instant. I was nine years old when I was first put into therapy. I was nine years old when my mom was already being warned I might struggle my entire life with mental health disorders," he wrote.

"It didn't really take long for that assumption to become reality."

He told court how he doesn't feel safe enough to be happy and pushes people away because he fears they could be ripped from his life.

"The world around me keeps going, but I feel trapped."

He sabotages his own life to protect himself from losing anyone else like he lost his father, court heard.

Land's supervision order will last for seven years. He was also ordered to submit a DNA sample.

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