Two Winnipeg men have admitted to beating their "drinking buddy" to death after catching him in the act of committing a sexual assault.
Paul Clemence Cawson, 34, and Oliver Newton John McCallum, 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of a deal struck with justice officials. In exchange, a more serious charge of second-degree murder was dropped.
The Crown cited extreme intoxication and possible provocation as grounds for the reduced plea, which eliminates a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Edward John Denetchezhe, 60, was found dead in bathtub at a suite inside the St. Regis Hotel in October 2009. His killers returned to court Tuesday for sentencing.
McCallum was given 13 years in prison, while Cawson received eight years for his lesser role.
Both men have been in custody since their arrest, which pre-dates legislative changes that outlaws double-time credit being awarded. As a result, their sentences have been reduced by six years, one month. That leaves McCallum with six years, 11 months to serve, while Cawson has just 23 months remaining.
Crown attorney Scott Cooper told court that Denetchezhe was friends with Cawson and McCallum, as all three men had spent time living on the streets of downtown Winnipeg. On the night of the attack, Denetchezhe had rented a room at the St. Regis and invited the pair up to drink with him.
Their socializing turned violent when McCallum emerged from a bathroom to find Denetchezhe performing a sexual act on Cawson, who had passed out, court was told. McCallum flew into a rage, kicking and punching and stomping on Denetchezhe, who weighed barely 100 pounds. Cawson briefly joined in to deliver a few blows.
Denetchezhe was then dragged into the bathroom and placed in tub. The two men also placed nickels in his eye sockets and on his tongue - although no specific reason for the bizarre action was given in court. The pair then fled the suite.
Denetchezhe’s body was found four days later by cleaning staff. An autopsy revealed he died of blunt-force trauma to the head and upper body.
"There was no intention at all to kill this man. What happened was a reaction to the action of the victim," defence lawyer John Corona told court Tuesday. "There is a high degree of remorse. This wasn’t supposed to end up this way. They were all buddies."
Cawson gave a lengthy speech to court Tuesday in which he apologized for his actions and described Denetchezhe as someone with a "warmth and compassion for others."
Both killers have serious alcohol addictions, court was told. McCallum has an extensive criminal record, while Cawson’s is much shorter. Both men told court they wish to turn their troubled lives around.
Members of the victim’s family did not attend the hearing or provide impact statements.