‘A youth sentence would not be just’: Why the La Loche shooter will receive an adult sentence

By Kathy Gallant
February 26, 2018 - 12:00pm

“The crimes were not an impulsive act done by an immature person, and the nature and manner of his murders were unnecessarily violent.”

Those were the words Judge Janet McIvor used as she announced the youth who killed four people and injured seven others in January of 2016 would be sentenced as an adult. She spoke to a courtroom packed with victims and their families, as well as family members of the now-20-year-old shooter on Feb. 23 to announce her decision. The media was physically barred from entering the courtroom during the hearing, and had to learn the details of McIvor's decision from audio recordings requested after the fact.

The shooter was only few weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday when he shot Dayne Fontaine, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, in a home, then proceeded to La Loche Community School where he shot nine more people. In addition to the Fontaines, the shooting claimed the lives of Adam Wood, 35, and Marie Janvier, 21.

McIvor said she looked at two factors when assessing the Crown’s request for an adult sentence: the shooter's level of moral culpability, and whether a youth sentence would be enough to hold him accountable for his actions. Reading from an abridged version of her lengthy written decision, McIvor first acknowledged the respect the still-grieving community has given to the judicial process.

“I understand and realize that there are differing opinions,” she said. “I know this has been very long and difficult. For some of you, this has been an ordeal.”

Though the judge said she’s aware the events of January 22, 2016 were "seared" into the memory of the community of La Loche, McIvor also acknowledged the shooter had no previous criminal record and immediately pleaded guilty to the heinous acts. Despite his guity plea, however, she noted the methodical planning used before the attack. The young man shot the two brothers in their home on a day he knew family members would be away, McIvor noted, and still went to the school to "shoot those f**king kids," which he later admitted to in a police interview.

“The consequences have been and continue to be devastating,” she said. “He did, however, warn off three friends off when he arrived at the school and spared a teacher. These things show an adult-like quality.”

Throughout the case the defence cited numerous cognitive and behavioural issues the shooter suffers from, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

“He needs long-term monitoring for his ongoing needs, many of which are still unknown,” she said. “The impact on the victims’ family, friends and the community at large will never be properly articulated or measured. The murders at the school were senseless and coldly horrific.”

During court proceedings, while the youth was visibly upset by discussions of the deaths of the brothers, McIvor said he seemed "unaffected" by the victims of the shooting spree at the school.

The case was adjourned until Fri., March 16 at 3 p.m. in Meadow Lake. A publication ban on the shooter's identity remains in place.

 

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