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Murder suspect in bus driver's death has long criminal record

The one thing judges, prosecutors and his own lawyer agree on about Brian Kyle Thomas is that when he drinks alcohol he can get violent.

Thomas, the 22-year-old man accused of killing Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser early Tuesday, has an extensive criminal record for his history of alcohol-fuelled violence.

Just three months ago, after Thomas pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend on a street and then in her residence, defence counsel Ted Mariash said Thomas gets into trouble when he drinks, and successfully argued against having a ban of it being part of his probation.

"I don't think he can abstain," Mariash said during the November sentencing.

Thomas was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday in the gruesome slaying of the 58-year-old driver at the final stop of the day on a route that ends on the University of Manitoba campus.

Court documents identify the weapon as a knife. Police haven't said whether it has been recovered.

"It seems so senseless. It's incredibly sad," Const. Jason Michalyshen said.

"It's a very sad day for the City of Winnipeg when we have a civil servant doing their job providing a service to members of the public. When they're confronted in this fashion, we're all taken aback by it and we're now talking about a homicide."

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>The attack occurred at about 2 a.m. in the area of Dafoe Road West and Gillson Street.</p></p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The attack occurred at about 2 a.m. in the area of Dafoe Road West and Gillson Street.

Michalyshen said investigators have viewed video from security cameras on the bus and have interviewed witnesses, some of whom made 911 calls during the attack.

"The focus... the chief has already reached out to senior city officials about safety procedures and how we move forward to preventing something like this from ever happening again," Michalyshen said.

Facts confirmed by police Wednesday were first reported by the Free Press in a detailed description of the violence from a police source.

Thomas was with a group of friends who had been on the bus for some time. They were believed to be intoxicated, either from alcohol, drugs or both. At some point, all of Thomas's friends got off the bus; he stayed behind.

At the end of the route on the University of Manitoba campus, Fraser noticed the passenger. He put the bus in park and walked to the back, telling the man he'd have to leave.

FACEBOOK PHOTO</p><p>Irvine Jubal Fraser</p>

FACEBOOK PHOTO

Irvine Jubal Fraser

"Where's my buddies?" he asked, according to the police source.

Fraser told him they'd already left — and he'd now have to follow. Fraser apparently put his hands on the man in an attempt to escort him off, prompting a violent reaction.

"He spit on (the bus driver)," said the police source.

Fraser then grabbed Thomas and was in the process of pulling him off the bus when he pulled out a large knife and began slashing and stabbing. It was an extremely violent attack, one that left a large pool of blood outside the bus and resulted in Fraser's arm nearly being severed, according to the source.

Fraser was rushed to hospital in critical condition but doctors were unable to save his life.

Michalyshen said Thomas fled the immediate area on foot and was arrested nearby by police, with the assistance of the canine unit, general patrol officers and cadets, on the frozen Red River.

He said people in the immediate area were able to assist officers at the scene and through 911 with information.

"We appreciate those individuals," he said. "Whenever members of the public get involved, with respect to tragic incidents like this, by simply picking up the phone, calling 911, seeing the urgency and emergency services getting there very quickly. With that, we were able to make an arrest very quickly. We had members of our canine unit, they were in the area, they were there within minutes and we were able apprehend an individual. But the bottom line is that still doesn't change the fact that we're talking about a homicide and the loss of life."

Thomas's lengthy odyssey through the justice system began with a November 2012 conviction on charges of assault, possession of a weapon and fail to comply with a curfew. He received an 18-month suspended sentence with probation.

He was back in court in October 2013 to plead guilty for breaching his probation and received three days in custody (time served) and six additional months of supervised probation.

One year later, Thomas admitted to another assault and was sentenced to 28 days in custody (time served). In December 2014, Thomas pleaded guilty to uttering threats and possession of a dangerous weapon and received 84 days (time served) in custody.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Transit riders wait for a bus at a temporary bus stop set up Tuesday after the fatal stabbing of a driver near the University of Manitoba. Police have charged a suspect in the attack.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Transit riders wait for a bus at a temporary bus stop set up Tuesday after the fatal stabbing of a driver near the University of Manitoba. Police have charged a suspect in the attack.

His next date with the courts was in June 2015 when he admitted to mischief and failing to comply with his probation and was given 20 days (time served) in custody.

Thomas was back before a judge in October 2015, pleading guilty to robbery and failing to comply with his probation and got the equivalent of six months time served.

He returned to court in February 2016, admitting to failing to abstain from alcohol as part of his probation and was given five days (time served) in custody. Similar convictions followed in April, May and June, also resulting in just a few days credit for time served after each arrest.

Then came the November court date on assault and two counts of failing to comply with a probation order, when he got the equivalent of four months time served.

During the November sentencing, court was told Thomas was born at Shamattawa First Nation, where Mariash said more than 90 per cent of the residents are addicted to substances.

"His mother drank 'super juice' continuously during the pregnancy and he was seized when he was born," Mariash told provincial court Judge Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson, adding his client has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Mariash said Thomas was put in 73 different placements with Child and Family Services as a child. He left the community and moved to Winnipeg when he turned 18, and from that point, "He has been essentially homeless," the lawyer said.

Thomas himself told the judge he was sorry for assaulting his then- girlfriend, and said what sparked it.

"If I hadn't been drunk I never would have did that," he said.

His most recent appearance occurred a few weeks later, in December, when Thomas admitted to failing to comply with probation and got one week of time served.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

- with files from Ashley Prest

Read more by Kevin Rollason and Mike McIntyre.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10:08 AM CST: Changes headline

10:42 AM: Updated.

11:41 AM: Adds police comment

1:18 PM: Writethru, video added.

1:37 PM: Adds images.

3:18 PM: Updates

4:22 PM: Tweaks lede

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