Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killer, 37, to be sent back to St. Vincent

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He may have been given a much lighter sentence than justice officials recommended -- but a convicted killer likely isn't celebrating.

That's because Abiola Matthews will be deported from Canada after serving his sentence.

Matthews, 37, was sentenced Friday to 71/2 years in prison for stabbing a teen to death during a confrontation downtown. However, he was given double-time credit for the more than three years already spent in custody, leaving him with 13 months left to serve.

Matthews pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the September 2009 attack that killed 17-year-old Michael Mariak Jok. He faces instant deportation back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines upon his release from prison.

The Crown had sought up to 12 years in prison for Matthews, which would have extended his stay in this country.

"I am deeply sorry for your loss, from the bottom of my heart," Matthews told the victim's family in court during submissions earlier this month. "I know I caused much pain for your family. I really feel what happened every day, taking the life of a young man."

Matthews and a friend were driving through the neighbourhood when they spotted Jok and some friends walking down the street, court was told. There was no history between the two men.

Matthews's friend shouted a crude remark toward some young women in the group. That prompted an angry Jok to walk up to their vehicle and pour out his bottle of beer on the car. He also threw the empty bottle toward Matthews, who responded by getting out of the car. He was carrying a knife.

One of Jok's friends took off his belt and began swinging it, striking Matthews, who slashed him in the cheek with his knife. Jok lunged toward Matthews, shoving him. Matthews responded by stabbing Jok in the throat. He bled to death.

Matthews later confessed his crime to a friend, who reported it to police.

Jok was a Grade 12 student at Miles Macdonell Collegiate who came to Canada in 2004. He spent his early life in Ethiopia and dreamed of attending university in Canada. The teen attended a youth group at St. Matthew's Anglican Church and was an avid soccer and basketball player. "We came here to make a life," said friend Matthew Joseph. "He was too young to die."

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2012 A7

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