A 13-year-old boy who stabbed a Winnipeg convenience store clerk after being told to put on a face mask told police he "did what I had to do," a court heard this week.
"You think I’m scared?" city police quoted the boy as saying, following his arrest one hour after the Feb. 26 attack. "I stabbed the b---h because he made me mad. You do the crime, you do the time. That is what I will do."
The boy pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing bodily harm, and was sentenced Monday to 18 months custody and community supervision, minus credit for time in custody, followed by six months supervised probation.
The boy struck a more contrite tone in court, telling the victim he was "sorry" for the attack.
"I wish you will get better," the youth said. "And (I’m not) going to behave like that anymore... I feel remorse. I have dreams about it."
The 41-year-old victim, an African immigrant and sole breadwinner for his wife and four children, spent two days in hospital and was unable to work for three months following the stabbing, court was told.
The victim "was doing nothing but enforcing the rules of public health orders," Crown attorney Jodi Koffman told provincial court Judge Heather Pullan. "For no reason, this enraged (the boy) to the point of seriously harming (the victim)."
The boy and an adult female visited the convenience store around 3:30 a.m. to buy snacks and cigarettes for his mother, when the victim told them to put on a face mask. The boy complied but became enraged and stabbed the clerk in the stomach as he left the store.
The boy and woman fled in a taxi, with the youth telling the taxi driver he "just stabbed a guy." Police arrested him at his home just over an hour later.
“I stabbed the b‐-h because he made me mad. You do the crime, you do the time. That is what I will do.” — 13-year-old boy who stabbed a Winnipeg convenience store clerk
Koffman recommended Pullan sentence the boy to a maximum youth term of two years custody and community supervision, describing the crime as "heinous."
"We are in the middle of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be ending, and everyone is trying to do their part," she said.
The victim "is not only trying to enforce these public health measures, he’s also trying to keep himself and his other customers safe. That asking somebody to simply follow these orders results in such an intense response that could have killed him is heinous."
The attack has left the man and his family "living in fear and terror," according to a victim impact statement provided to court.
“Whenever I go out with my kids, they say they will stab you again or kill you. I don’t trust anybody and I don’t feel secure anymore.” — Stabbing victim
"Whenever I go out with my kids, they say they will stab you again or kill you," the man said. "I don’t trust anybody and I don’t feel secure anymore."
Court heard the boy has been in and out of foster care and was banned from living in his home First Nation for "out of control" behaviour that included a number of "violent altercations," concerns over drug dealing, and damage to community property totalling $50,000.
According to a pre-sentence report prepared for court, the boy started using marijuana and cocaine regularly at eight or nine years of age, and began drinking at 10. He told a probation officer cocaine "gives him energy and gives him drive."
The boy’s former school principal described him as a "hardcore drinker and drug user" since the age of 10, and alleged the youth had recruited other students into a gang before he was suspended.
According to a forensic report, the boy has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The anger and substance abuse issues began in 2017, when his parents separated, said defence lawyer Jane Harrington.
The boy was intoxicated when he stabbed the victim — as he was during all his previous run-ins with the law for which he was not charged, Harrington said.
"We can see how his anger issues, coupled with substance abuse, translate into violence," said Harrington, who recommended a sentence of one year custody and community supervision, plus probation.
Harrington argued a shorter sentence with more focus on probation would allow the boy to take advantage of much needed counselling and treatment, noting he has shown "some progress" since becoming sober in custody.
Pullan called the Crown's recommendation "excessive," but said a sentence longer than the one put forth by the defence was necessary to denounce such conduct.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.