Adult sentence upheld in La Loche school shooter appeal

Saskatchewan’s highest court has decided on whether the La Loche school shooter will serve an adult or youth sentence by upholding a previously imposed adult penalty.

In January 2016, he killed brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine at a northern Saskatchewan home before driving to La Loche’s high school and killing teacher Adam Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier. The gunman also injured seven others.

The shooter was 15 days shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the killings.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

In May 2018, a judge handed down an adult sentence of life in prison with no parole for 10 years.

Defence lawyer Aaron Fox argued his client should have been sentenced as a youth.

Fox stated the judge should have recommended an Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) sentence. The measure is designed as a therapeutic approach for violent offenders with mental health issues.

During sentencing proceedings, the provincial head of the program said the shooter was too old and an IRCS sentence wouldn’t be appropriate.

The lawyer also said the judge should have considered the shooter’s low IQ, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and numerous mental disorders in her decision.

Fox read from transcripts of teachers who cited concerns with his school performance as early as Grade 1. Through elementary and high school, he said his client never received the supports he needed and “fell through the cracks.”

Three judges from the Court of Appeal in Regina considered the application before making the decision.

It was a two-to-one decision by the judges. The appeal has been dismissed and the adult sentence has been upheld, according to a document released on Oct. 31 by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

The maximum youth sentence would be six years incarceration followed by four years of supervision in the community.

The man can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. His identity remains under a publication ban until the appeal period expires.

-With files from Ryan Kessler

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