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Eight more months

Second youth in Webster case denied early release

The second youth to be sentenced for manslaughter in the November 2001 beating death of 41-year-old Aaron Webster will stay in jail for eight more months, a youth court judge ruled Sep 9.

The man, who cannot be named because he was a youth when he committed the crime, was sentenced in April 2004 to two years in jail and a year of conditional release. He became automatically eligible for a mandatory sentence review after his first year in custody.

His lawyer, Phil Rankin, told judge Jodie Werier that the 20-year-old wants to learn a trade and spend time with his baby daughter who was born after he was sent to jail.

Werier rejected that argument saying the sentence she imposed after the youth pleaded guilty last year was the maximum she could give and was “intended to have meaningful consequences,” to denounce the crime and protect society.

“The societal interest component has not been satisfied,” she said.

“I decline to exercise my discretion to change [the youth’s] custodial status at this time.”

She called Webster’s killing “an inexplicable and violent crime.”

Prosecutor Greg Weber told Werier that while the second youth finished high school while incarcerated, his performance in rehabilitation programs has been lacklustre.

“He was generally passive and neutral in his participation,” Weber said.

A report prepared on the youth reads that his rationale for the killing was that Webster “was deviant and deserved what he got.”

He now knows what “distortions he is susceptible to,” it read.

Weber also noted that both youths lied under oath during the trial of co-accused Ryan Cran and Danny Rao in BC Supreme Court last November.

Webster’s cousin, Fred Norman, was pleased Werier upheld the youth’s sentence, but he says that the maximum penalty is not enough.

“It’s too bad he’s not serving longer,'” Norman says. “Three years is just still not long enough. The justice system doesn’t work for serious crime.

“Crime’s crime, but this is taking a human life,” he continues. “There’s something wrong with them and they should be put away for a long time to think about what they’ve done.”

Norman spurned Rankin’s suggestion the former youth needed to spend time with his new child.

“That’s crap,” he said. “We’ve lost a family member. They’ll use anything.”

No members of the queer community attended the hearing.

During initial sentencing, Werier said the youth and four of his friends drove to Stanley Park in the early morning hours of Nov 17, 2001. The vehicle had baseball bats and golf clubs in the trunk.

She said the youth acknowledged it was not the first time the group had gone to the park, “ostensibly, to beat up peeping toms.”

When the group arrived at Stanley Park, they encountered the nearly naked Webster and began to chase him across the parking lot where his car was located.

Werier said the first youth, who Judge Valmond Romilly sentenced in December 2003, was the first to strike Webster as he attempted to flee. The second youth then attacked him as well.

The assault continued after Webster fell to the ground beside his car.

A coroner’s report indicated massive bruising all over Webster’s body. The immediate cause of death was an injury to his vertebral artery and trauma due to a beating assault to the head and neck.

Cran and Rao were charged as adults in the case. While Rao was acquitted, Cran was sentenced to six years in jail.

Cran has filed a notice of appeal but no court date has been set.

The Court of Appeal says an appeal book and transcripts have been filed but nothing else as of Sept 7.

Rankin suggested before Werier that Cran could be out in two years. He was sentenced Feb 8.