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Duncan man apologizes for killing his father in tragic outing

Sep 22 2012
Brendon Menard is escorted from the courthouse in Duncan on Thursday, July 8, 2010. 

Brendon Menard is escorted from the courthouse in Duncan on Thursday, July 8, 2010.

Photograph by: Leix Bainas , Times Colonist

Brendon Menard stood in a B.C. Supreme Courtroom Friday and apologized for killing his dad.

"I want to say I take full responsibility for what happened on that weekend," said the 24-year-old Nanaimo man who'd sat in the prisoner's dock with a bowed head through much of his sentencing hearing.

"I apologize for the pain and agony I caused my family. I really wish I had turned down that weekend and gone with my girlfriend [to Tofino]."

The hearing followed Menard's guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter, and was the first time the circumstances of Tony Menard's death became public.

Justice Nathan Smith characterized the case as difficult and unusual. He plans to give his decision on sentencing Oct. 22.

Brendon Menard shot his father, a Nanaimo businessman, on July 4, 2010, while a group of male family members and friends were camping and target shooting in woods west of Cowichan Lake.

Crown prosecutor Scott Van Alstine told the court that Brendon Menard knew what he was doing when he pointed a 22-calibre rifle at his father's back and fired six times.

Nanaimo lawyer Bert King, acting for Brendon in court, said the father and son were extremely close and Tony only agreed to go once both his sons agreed to go along.

Brendon idolized his father and thought of him as a mentor, King said.

Doris Menard, 85, testified at the hearing that her son Tony and her grandson Brendon were good friends. Brendon is devastated and remorseful when the family discussions turn to Tony's death, she said.

A car crash in December 2004 left Brendon with severe brain trauma which led to periodic epileptic seizures. Some seizures led to Brendon falling to the ground in convulsions while others left him distant and uncommunicative, King said.

Triggers included the use of alcohol, lack of sleep and stress. Brendon had experienced all three that weekend.

Brendon doesn't drive due to his brain injury and he shouldn't have been handling firearms, King said.

The court heard that the family group had gone camping many times before, where they consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana and used long guns and pistols to shoot targets.

Brendon seemed "like a robot" the morning of the shooting, witnesses later told police.

When Tony walked in front of the firing line to set up the cans and bottles the group was using as targets, Brendon raised the semiautomatic rifle to his shoulder, peered through the scope and fired multiple times. Five bullets struck his father.

Tony collapsed and others of the group ran to him and began CPR.

Brendon fired a few rounds in another direction before someone took the weapon away from him.

Brendon seemed surprised and asked two others what had happened. Eventually, he joined the group surrounding Tony and tried to assist in giving CPR.

Tony died a short time later.

Tony had told friends earlier he was deeply concerned about Brendon's relationship with his girlfriend, Sarah Young.

Brendon and Sarah had planned to spend that long weekend together at Long Beach, but their trip was cancelled when Brendon decided to go with his father, the court was told.

Young was very upset at the change of plans, Van Alstine said, noting she told police that she was mad at Brendan when he left. She said she told Brendon she "wanted the family BS to stop," so they could have a family and future together.

Brendon has no memory of shooting the gun, King said. He only remembers getting the firearms out of the truck then standing over his father's motionless body.

The Crown is seeking three to five years imprisonment while defence is asking for a suspended sentence and a period of probation.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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