There were few precedents for B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Ker when deciding on a sentence for the young offender convicted of manslaughter in the death of Langley’s Carson Crimeni.
Although both Crown and defense lawyers presented multiple cases to the judge during a sentencing hearing as possible points of comparison, Ker noted that this case was unique.
The offender, who cannot be named because he was 17 when the crime took place, gave Carson, 14, a massive overdose of MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly. Carson thought he had purchased three “caps,” or doses, when in fact the offender had given him at least 10 doses. That was enough to drive Carson’s temperature to 42° Celsius, or 107.6° Farenheit, and cause a fatal cardiac arrest.
When the offender pleased guilty to manslaughter, it was the first time that a young offender in Canada had been convicted of manslaughter for providing someone else with drugs.
There have been adults convicted of manslaughter for similar crimes, and there have been youths convicted of manslaughter for violent attacks.
Ker acknowledged the serious moral gravity of the crime – knowingly giving a child a massive amount of drugs. While the offender and others watched – some of them posting videos of the slurring, stumbling, and highly intoxicated Carson online – he did nothing.
“He did not intervene, and seek out medical assistance for Carson,” Ker noted in her reasons for sentencing on Thursday, Oct. 26.
The offender himself, his hair shaved down to stubble, sat quietly in the prisoner’s box during the hearing. He seemed calm, unlike during the sentencing hearing last month, when he often fidgeted, and at one point threw up, an incident his lawyer said was due to nerves.
His conduct, Ker said, was criminally reckless. While he did not intend for Carson’s death, he must have known that amount of MDMA could be extremely dangerous.
She also noted the staggering impact on Carson’s family, many of whom, including his father Aron and grandfather Darrel, were in the courtroom.
“By all accounts, Carson Crimeni was the centre of the universe for everyone who filed a victim impact statement,” the judge said.
She called the impact of his death “sudden, tragic, far reaching, and unending.”
Balanced against the gravity of the crime and the moral blameworthiness of the act, Ker spoke of the possibilities to rehabilitate the offender.
His life before the offense had been on a downward trajectory.
A poor student, diagnosed young with ADHD, the offender nevertheless came from a supportive, middle-class family and had not experienced abuse or neglect.
A violent assault at age 15 saw him kicked in the head and left unconscious in the snow.
“The attack was a significant turning point in his life,” Ker said.
After that, the offender was more impulsive, suffered from greater inattention and anger, and had recurring nightmares.
From teenage drinking and experiments with cannabis, his drug use accelerated dramatically, trying a laundry-list of substances including cocaine, crack, benzodiazepines, MDMA, and Oxycontin. By age 17, he was a heavy daily user of hallucinogens, including magic mushrooms and LSD.
He was also a drug dealer of moderate sophistication, and had dropped out of both regular schooling and a special alternative program.
While Ker went over this portion of the offender’s life, his mother cried in the courtroom gallery.
His life up to the point of Carson’s death was not an excuse, but it was an explanation, Ker said.
She noted that there were multiple pre-sentence reports on the offender, including two interviews with mental health professionals.
“The reports… are not what I would characterize as glowing,” Ker said.
She noted that both characterized him as either a moderate or high potential risk to re-offend, and said he tried to deflect blame for his actions, or failed to understand why the community was so upset over Carson’s death.
Ker noted that both interviews were relatively brief, and said she hoped that the offender’s actions since Carson’s death showed he had changed.
It was the post-crime conduct that she noted, including the fact that he has stopped using illegal drugs, has been working steadily, and was making progress towards getting a high school GED. After four years, he has had no further criminal charges.
Given that he appeared to be “well on the road to rehabilitation,” Ker said that the precedents and guidelines indicated some prison time had to be imposed, but that it should be the minimum necessary to provide consequences for the offender.
The Crown had asked for two years of prison time in a three-year overall sentence, while the defense had asked for 12 to 18 months.
After being told that he would spend the next year and a half in an adult provincial prison, the offender left the courtroom quietly with a court sheriff.