A man convicted of manslaughter in the May Long weekend 2015 swarming death of Burnaby teen Luka Gordic read out an apology during a sentencing hearing in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver to a nearly empty court gallery, July 25.
The family of the slain teen had walked out the moment he began to speak. Gordic, a Burnaby Central Secondary grad, was 19 when he was attacked by a group of youths in Whistler. He was stabbed three times, once in the heart.
"I'm so deeply sorry for what happened that night," said the 20-year-old, who can't be identified because he was 17 at the time of the killing.
"I hope you can understand that I never met Luka or knew him, but I can tell from what I hear he was the nicest person.
"What happened to me makes no difference, but I want you to know I've had no peace since that night."
Crown prosecutor Hank Reiner is arguing in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver that he should be sentenced as an adult to six years in jail.
But the lawyer defending him, Brij Mohan, is calling for a youth sentence of two years of community supervision.
Mohan argued his client, who had turned 17 shortly before the killing, had no criminal record and had been a follower and not a leader in the attack.
He further argued the young man was remorseful and willing to accept complete responsibility for his actions-as indicated in reports by experts who interviewed him.
The defence lawyer added his client had been forced to drop out of high school, leave Vancouver and go into hiding "due to credible threats to his life as a result of this incident."
"(He) was forced out of his home by social services as his presence endangered the life of his younger sister," Mohan told the court.
Despite this, he has finished high school and is on his way to becoming a personal trainer, according to Mohan.
"I will not ask you to forgive me, and I don't think I can ever forgive myself, but I want you to know I'm not an evil person," said the 20-year-old. "I just made a really bad mistake. I made a mistake and there's no excuse for it, a mistake I will have to carry with me for the rest of my life. I wish I had been a better person and a stronger person that day."
Reiner, however, called Mohan's description of the young man's involvement in the May long weekend attack a "gross minimization of his client's role in the offence," and out of keeping with Justice Terence Schultes' findings of guilt in October. Schultes found the accused had produced a flick knife, which he dropped before attacking Gordic, and that he had been near the front of the crowd of nine teenaged attackers.
"On your findings of fact," Reiner said to the judge, "it is incontrovertible that he had a leading role in a violent, planned attack, where deadly consequences were at least foreseeable if not intended."
As for the young man's remorse, Reiner argued the conclusions of the experts should be questioned since they were based on a "flawed and minimized view" of his role in the attack.
The man also did not plead guilty, Reiner noted, and had tried with one of his co-accused to "concoct" evidence at trial about the knife he had produced and blood found on his shoes.
All that took away from the value of the man's court apology Wednesday, according to Reiner.
"Remorse expressed at the time of sentencing is too little, too late," Reimer said. "If there was genuine remorse, there was ample opportunity to display that long before today."
Sentencing continues this week for the two men convicted of manslaughter in the case and a third man found guilty of second-degree murder.
Arvin Golic, who was 18 at the time and has already been sentenced for his role in the killing, instigated the attack over a petty dispute between the two young men.