Sentence reduced for young offender convicted in 'brutal beating' that left La Ronge, Sask. restaurant owner dead
SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has taken two years off of a manslaughter sentence for a young man convicted in the 2017 killing of a La Ronge restaurant owner.
The offender, who was 17 years old at the time of the offence, has had his sentence reduced from nine to seven years. His name cannot be published under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
He was one of three people involved in the beating death of Simon Grant during an armed robbery at his business, Louisiana’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. Grant died of his injuries in hospital.
According to the appeal decision, the initial sentencing decision didn’t include a number of factors that should have been considered – this includes the young offender’s guilty plea, his “repeated and heartfelt expressions of remorse” and that he had no previous criminal record.
Grant’s widow, Cora Laich, said she disagrees with the decision.
“My heart dropped. It just really, really hurt for Simon. I was just really emotional that day and I’ve gone through a lot of stuff through this entire thing, but that really hit me hard,” said Laich.
What stands out the most, she said, is that the decision says the offender was apologetic for what he did. While the offender did briefly apologize to her family in court before he was sentenced, Laich said it didn’t seem genuine.
“There’s these mitigating factors that they talk about in the report, but my thing is what about the aggravating factors?” she questioned.
“He left Simon laying there in a pool of blood – does that not hold any weight when it comes to sentencing? That doesn’t matter?”
The decision also states that the sentencing judge didn’t consider the young offender’s “progress to realize his self-pronounced goal of rehabilitation” while in custody so far.
The Gladue factors were also a large part of the decision. This means that judges must consider the individual circumstances of offenders, particularly who are Indigenous.
The document describes the offender’s “difficult” past. This includes using drugs starting at a young age, living in multiple foster homes and eventually being kicked out of homes of family members for drug use and trafficking.
Prior to the killing, Grant tried to help the then teen turn his life around by offering him a place to stay.
The decision described the crime as “very grave” after Grant opened his home to a stranger.
“[The offender] repaid that generosity with a robbery and an extremely brutal beating that led to Mr. Grant’s death. The crime had a deep impact on the community and it devastated Mr. Grant’s family, both emotionally and financially,” reads the decision.
All other aspects in the original sentencing decision remain in place.
The young offender was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
According to the document, he led the assault at the restaurant with the help of two others.
His co-accused, Austin Bird, was sentenced to seven years and another youth was sentenced to three years.