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Man gets four years for manslaughter

Apr 28 2012

Frederiko Kodiak Louie broke down in tears Friday as he received a four-year prison sentence for killing Mark Henderson at the City Metro Suites on Nov. 11, 2010.

Before sentencing, Louie told the court that if he remained in custody, he would try to remain positive and "make better of my life because someone has died."

"The most important thing of all to ensure the safety of the community is to absolutely abstain from alcohol, which I fully realize has been a big struggle in my life," said Louie, a strong-shouldered man, with angular features and closely shaved head.

But the four-year sentence appeared to shock the 27-year-old First Nations man, who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. His defence lawyer, Robert Mulligan, tried to calm and comfort him as he sobbed, head down, in the prisoner's docket.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston credited Louie with the nine months he had already spent in custody. This means he will serve a further three years and three months in prison.

No one was in court to support Louie. Henderson's mother sat in the back row.

In December, Louie was convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing death of Henderson, 35.

The stabbing took place after a long argument between the two men escalated into a physical scuffle. Louie went into his room, got a knife and stabbed an unarmed Henderson twice.

One blow pierced Henderson's heart.

During the sentencing hearing, Johnston received victim impact statements and a presentence report.

He also heard evidence from probation officer Sharon Bristow, a member of the Victoria Integrated Community Outreach Team, who testified she placed Louie at the motel because no rooms were available at safer places like the Salvation Army.

In crafting a sentence, Johnston said he had to consider Louie's aboriginal ancestry and the challenges he faces with fetal alcohol syndrome.

"In doing so, I will not lose sight of the fact that Mark Henderson was a man who had a right to continue to live and that his death was a loss to his family and his community," Johnston said. "The statements from his father, mother and sister clearly convey the pain they have felt as a result of his death."

Johnston found Louie had little connection to his background and culture and concluded that the possibility of aboriginal-based sentencing alternatives were not realistic in his case.

The Crown asked for a sentence of four to six years. Mulligan asked for two years less a day, arguing that society had failed to deal with Louie's problems and needs.

"I agree with Mr. Mulligan that we can do better," said Johnston, noting that Louie was placed in a motel with people with similar problems, that had alcohol readily available and offered no support from the community outreach team after 8 p.m.

As aggravating factors, the judge found that Louie left the safety of his room to continue the fight and that he was on a conditional sentence order and had been out of custody only three days.

As mitigating factors, he found that Louie did not have a prior record of serious violence and that Henderson's actions may have provoked Louie to lose his self-control.

Johnston said he unreservedly accepted Louie's expression of remorse and believes he is gaining some insight into his problems with alcohol. "Mr. Louie, I hope you use the time in jail to submit your resolve to avoid alcohol for the rest of your life and to avoid any chance of other offences."

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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