Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal has reduced the manslaughter sentence of a young offender who killed Simon Grant, a restaurant owner in La Ronge.
While the court upheld the adult sentence of the offender — who was 17 at the time — the court did shave time off his sentence.
He was originally sentenced to nine years in prison, but it was reduced to seven years.
The court of appeal found the sentencing judge erred by not taking into account mitigating factors.
These include the entering of a guilty plea, his repeated and heartfelt expressions of remorse and his lack of a criminal record. The sentencing judge also made no reference to the young offender's positive performance in pre-sentence custody.
The young offender — who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — was one of three people who was held responsible for the death of Grant.
Andrew Bird, who was 18 at the time, was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter, and a 14-year-old boy was given a youth sentence of three years.
The killing took place at Grant's business, Louisiana's Bar-B-Que Restaurant in La Ronge, on April 15, 2017.
He was attacked with a baseball bat by the 17-year-old — who was taken in by Grant to help the teen turn his life around — and the two co-accused.
Throughout the assault, Grant suffered three blows to the head with the bat and seven hits to the body.
During sentencing in 2019, the court heard how the 17-year-old was the architect of a plan to rob Grant of his gold Rolex watch that was valued at $60,000.
He also directed his confederates to attack Grant while the 17-year-old delivered several blows to Grant's head.
The court said the harm done by the young offender was "considerable."
"His crime shocked the local community and devastated Mr. Grant's family."
The Rolex watch was never discovered, but the offenders walked away with an undisclosed amount of cash, Grant's cellphone, keys and credit card.
Grant succumbed to his injuries two days later, dying in hospital on the morning of April 17, 2017.
In the end, the sentencing judge felt a youth sentence would not be sufficient to hold the 17-year-old accountable for his behaviour. A maximum youth sentence would be three years for manslaughter, two of which would be in secure custody, and one year under community supervision.
The sentencing judge found a youth sentence "would not reflect the shock and horror of right-thinking members of society."
The sentencing judge called the offence "quite literally an orgy of violence and blood" and given the kindness Grant showed the young offender, it was "difficult to think of more evil and unjustified attack."
The defence suggested the sentencing judge was overwhelmed by the seriousness and brutality of the offence and erred by failing to consider the relevant background matters and Gladue factors.
"The sentencing judge's decision to tie [the 17-year-old's] sentence directly to the one imposed on Mr. Bird is especially problematic because there was nothing on the record about Mr. Bird's personal circumstances" wrote Chief Justice Richards for the court of appeal.
"He grew up with little or no family structure or similar supports and he had lived in a state of great impermanence, suffering various kinds of abuse and being plagued by drug and alcohol problems. [He] had essentially lived by his own wits since a young age. He was, in many ways, a case study in Gladue factors."
Because of this, the court found it appropriate to reduce his sentence by two years.
The decision was unanimous among the three judges who heard the appeal.