Man gets four years for killing mother

Vancouver Sun/September 19, 2008

A man who was 14 years old when he shot and killed his drug-addicted Hare Krishna mother outside the family home near Hope has been sentenced to four years in jail.

The man - identified only by his initials J.A.P. in B.C. Supreme Court documents - is now 23 years old. He was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this year, but sentenced as a young offender because of his age at the time of the January 1999 murder.

Evidence at trial painted a picture of a violent and dysfunctional home, headed by a controlling father and drug-addicted mother, both of whom were adherents of the Hare Krishna faith.

The man was the third of five children born to the couple. They lived on a rural property outside Hope and were home-schooled early on in their parents' efforts to keep them from being adversely influenced by other youths in the community.

Violence among family members was a regular occurrence, the court heard during the man's trial.

The situation was particularly bad between the father and his two oldest daughters, who rebelled against the strictures of the home.

The man often took part in the violence against his sisters, with evidence given during trial that he joined in on physical assaults on the older girls.

This ended in 1998 when the girls left home and were placed in foster care by the Ministry of Children and Families.

The man's relationship with his mother was also unstable and marked by violence.

The court heard that the mother was a manic-depressive who abused medications, taking large amounts of Tylenol 3 and Gravol.

On a number of occasions, the woman left home, only to be found days later in Hope.

Once, she left home for a year, eventually travelling to the Philippines, where she lived with another man. When she returned home, she was pregnant. She later gave birth to a baby girl whom she gave up for adoption.

The man began to wish his mother was dead so she would not cause further embarrassment to the family, the court heard.

In statements to police, the man said he found the murder weapon -- a .45-calibre handgun -- buried in the garden.

He said that on the day of the murder, he got his mother to come with him by telling her he'd found some drugs in the woods nearby. He then confronted her with the gun.

"All these emotions came out. I was crying. I was flipped out. I was upset. I didn't want to do it but it was just right there, and so finally, I just pulled out the weapon and emptied it," he told police.

In total, he fired eight bullets, three of which hit his mother.

When he left her in the woods, she was still alive, but dead by the time he returned.

He buried her in a shallow grave at the site, and later told his father and others she'd left home again.

Years passed before the man told his sister about what he'd done.

He was arrested in 2006 following an undercover police operation coordinated with the sister's help.

During the sentencing hearing in March this year, Crown counsel argued the man should serve time as an adult offender, suggesting the case had some of the features of planning and pre-meditation.

As an adult, the man would have faced a longer jail term of 10 years.

But Justice William Grist said he wasn't satisfied an adult sentence was necessary to hold the accused accountable for the crime.

"This offence was very much a product of the dysfunctional family background and the defendant's dependency and reduced level of maturity," Grist wrote.

The man's lawyer, Glen Orris, said his client is no longer a Hare Krishna, but still practises "the best" of its philosophies.

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