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Haiart's killer to serve his time in adult jail

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A Winnipeg gang member will have to serve his murder sentence in an adult penitentiary - despite the fact he was just 17 at the time of the deadly shooting, a judge ruled today.

Corey Spence, now 20, was raised to adult court and given a life sentence with no chance of parole for five years back in November. The only issue that was left for the judge to decide today was what type of jail he should serve his time in.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, young offenders who receive an adult sentence can still serve their penalty in a youth facility.

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A court-ordered placement report recommended that Spence be sent to an adult prison. Queen's Bench Justice Albert Clearwater said today there was no reason to reject the suggestion.

Spence was convicted of second-degree murder for his role in one of the city's most notorious recent slayings.

Phil Haiart, 17, was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout and struck by a stray bullet as he walked through the west end in October 2005.

Spence had encouraged a fellow gang member to fire his weapon at rivals Corey Amyotte and Gharib Abdullah. The two intended targets took off running and Haiart, a graduate of St. John's-Ravenscourt School and son of a local surgeon, was hit while walking near Sargent Avenue and Maryland Street.

Police allege Jeff Cansanay was the gunman. But when Amyotte, Abdullah and a third witness, Jammal Jacob, refused to testify at his trial, Cansanay was acquitted. The three silent witnesses were later cited for contempt of court and jailed.

The Crown is appealing Cansanay's acquittal and seeking a new trial.

Spence was involved in gang activities, selling cocaine in the area and ordered the killings of his rivals in a dispute over territory, court was told.

Clearwater raised Spence to adult court following his conviction, noting he was just days away from turning 18 and already a well-established criminal at the time of Haiart's shooting.

Spence has been in custody at the Manitoba Youth Centre since his arrest but hasn't shown any signs of rehabilitation, Clearwater said.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, older serious, violent offenders are sentenced as adults unless they can show good reason for receiving a youth sentence.

Adults convicted of second-degree murder must serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole. The Youth Criminal Justice Act says 16- or 17-year- olds who are sentenced as adults for second-degree murder must serve at least seven years from the date they're taken into custody. Spence, who has already served two years, would be eligible for parole in 2012.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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