The 18-year-old, who can’t be identified because he was 15 when he gunned down Steve Sinclair, was sentenced to seven years – four in custody, three under community supervision — for second-degree murder.
The sentence sparked outrage from Sinclair’s daughter Sienna, who threw a ball of paper at the teen and swore at him inside the ninth-floor courtroom.
“I never get to see dad again. He gets seven years,” she sobbed as relatives restrained her.
The Crown wanted the teen to be sentenced as adult, which would have meant a life sentence with a maximum period of parole ineligibility of five to seven years because he committed the murder before he was 16.
But Superior Court Justice Mark Garson decided to sentence the teen as a youth, though he denied giving any credit for the nearly three years he’d spent in pre-trial custody at the Sprucedale Youth Centre in Simcoe.
“The Crown has failed to satisfy me that (the teen) possessed the necessary level of moral sophistication, judgment and capacity of an adult at the time of the murder,” Garson said in his hour-long ruling. “Rather, he displayed immaturity, vulnerability, short-sightedness and a lack of sophistication or appreciation for the consequences of his action.”
Sinclair, 49, was shot to death on Sept. 6, 2015, outside the Hamilton Road after-hours club that he ran. His killer previously told the court he was promised $10,000 – a bounty that was never paid – by an unknown man to shoot Sinclair in the legs, but maintained he didn’t intend to kill him.
“Although he fired the shots that killed Steve Sinclair, I accept that this was not his plan and that he effectively was an immature and vulnerable hired gun to wound . . . He did not demonstrate critical thinking or judgment in executing the plan,” Garson said.
Sinclair was a member of the Gatekeepers, a Hells Angels support club.
Garson’s ruling highlighted the teen’s difficult upbringing, which included being raised by a single mother who worked two jobs, a father frequently in jail, the shooting of his two brothers, close friends killed by gun violence and a history of drug abuse that started in Grade 3.
Although he initially had behaviour issues at Sprucedale, the teen has shown significant signs of improvement in the past 16 months, including nearly completing his high school studies and showing remorse for his crime, Garson said.
“The significant efforts he has made to better himself while at Sprucedale underscore his level of immaturity at the time of his offence,” Garson said of the teen who has a tattoo reading “loyalty ova money”.
“He no longer aspires to or worships the gangsta lifestyle,” Garson said.
Neither of the teen’s parents were in court Monday, A handful of Sinclair’s relatives were in attendance, several of them gasping when the sentence was handed down.
The family declined to speak to the media outside the courthouse. Victim impact statements read in the spring described Sinclair, a sheet-metal worker and talented guitar player, as a dedicated family man with a history of mentoring troubled teens like his killer.
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