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Teen given adult sentence for killing man while looking for beer money

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A Winnipeg teen who went on a robbery spree that ended with the death of a stranger has been given an adult sentence of life in prison.

Manitoba Queen's Bench Justice Jeffrey Oliphant ruled last month the Youth Criminal Justice Act wasn’t sufficient to protect the public from the man, who was 17 at the time of the deadly July 2009 attack.

The accused was found guilty earlier this year of second-degree murder and robbery following a month-long trial. He returned to court today for sentencing. Under the YCJA, the young killer could only have received a maximum of four years behind bars. As an adult, he gets a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least seven years.

"In my view, societal interests, which include respect for the justice system, cannot be attended to by anything less than the imposition of an adult sentence," Oliphant wrote in his decision.

Joseph Hall, 24, died in his mother's arms on the same night police flooded his neighbourhood responding to a surge in violent crime.

Two others have already admitted to their roles in the killing. James McMahon, 22, and Randall Preston Bourassa, 22, both pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea bargain struck with justice officials. Both were given the equivalent of 10-year prison sentences.

Hall's killers were apparently out of beer when they decided to find innocent victims to rob while strolling through the North End, court was told. Oliphant called the group "urban pirates on bicycles" who didn't care who they hurt or killed.

Their first target was robbed and stabbed but escaped with only minor injuries. The next victim, Hall, suffered three stab wounds to the chest, one of which punctured his heart.

The youngest killer has an extensive criminal history. Just weeks before Hall was slain, he was given one month of time served in custody and 15 months of supervised probation for numerous breaches of court orders. He was also placed in a special program that monitors high-risk offenders based on several previous criminal incidents. His conditions included a nightly curfew, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and having no weapons.

"Many, if not all, of the resources available pursuant to the Act have been employed in an attempt to rehabilitate (the accused)," Oliphant said in his decision. "Despite that, nothing seems to have worked. He has been assessed as a very high risk to become re-involved."

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