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Teen receives maximum sentence for killing pizza-delivery driver

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Gerald Crayford, 56, was a delivery man for Pizza Hotline when he walked into a robbery in progress in May 2011. He died after being struck twice with the blunt end of an axe.


Gerald Crayford, 56, was a delivery man for Pizza Hotline when he walked into a robbery in progress in May 2011. He died after being struck twice with the blunt end of an axe.

A Winnipeg teen who killed a pizza-delivery man with an axe during a robbery has been given the maximum sentence allowed by law.

The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the May 2011 attack. He returned to court Tuesday for his sentencing.

Provincial court Judge Rocky Pollack had previously ruled the teen should be given an adult sentence, which means an automatic life term behind bars. It also allows for his name to be published, as he is no longer protected by the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. However, that can’t occur until his 30-day appeal process ends.

The only question remaining Tuesday was how long he must wait until he can apply for parole.

Pollack agreed with prosecutor Lisa Carson’s request for seven years, which is the most a youth offender sentenced as an adult can receive in Canada. The teen had been seeking five years, which is the minimum.

There is no guarantee the teen will ever be released, and it’s possible he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"This sickened me when I think of how vicious the violence was," Pollack said Tuesday.

Pollack said earlier this year that the teen, who was 15 at the time of the homicide and turns 18 in October, can't be rehabilitated by a youth sentence where his maximum jail time would have been just four years.

Gerald Crayford, 56, was a delivery man for the Pizza Hotline store on Concordia Avenue when he walked into a robbery in progress May 15, 2011.

The teen, who was armed with an axe, and an accomplice threatened the clerk, and Crayford tried to stop the robbery. The accomplice pulled Crayford off the teen, who struck Crayford in the head twice with the blunt end of the axe.

The incident was captured on video. Crayford died the next day.

The teen appeared to be in charge of the robbery, directing his accomplice, and stole the till when they were unable to open it, taking it back to his house. There was $2,000 in it. The two suspects were arrested the following day.

Co-accused Byron Bushie, who was 18 at the time, has yet to face trial and is presumed innocent.

Pollack said the teen's actions leading up to and after the robbery show he's unlikely to be rehabilitated with the shorter youth sentence. He said the teen bragged about the crime, re-enacted it on video using cellphones stolen from the store and told his girlfriend "how cool it is to kill someone."

Pollack noted the teen's mother, grandmother and sister helped him hide the axe, which police later found. None were charged.


Updated on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM CDT: Adds sentence

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