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Accused auto thief has a dark past

Man charged in death of driver high-risk offender

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/12/2009 (3823 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He is one of Winnipeg's most high-profile car thieves, whose claim to shame was his role in a high-speed crash that killed a city cab driver.

Now the 18-year-old high-risk offender is back in custody, accused of driving a stolen Hummer that slammed into an innocent motorist last week, killing him.

'Very, very young kids do whatever they like,' widow Jolanta Andrzejczak.


'Very, very young kids do whatever they like,' widow Jolanta Andrzejczak.

Police and justice officials were stunned to learn the man accused in Friday's death of Zdzislaw Andrzejczak is the same person who was linked to the March 2008 death of Antonio Lanzellotti. The Youth Criminal Justice Act does not permit media to publish the name of the accused if his prior criminal background as a young offender is reported.

"This is a double shock, a double shock. I can't believe it," Andrzejczak's wife, Jolanta, told the Free Press on Tuesday upon learning of the man's background. "Very, very young kids do whatever they like."

The man -- who turned 18 in July -- was arrested Monday evening and has been charged with manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and theft over $5,000. He is also accused of breaching several probation orders that stem from previous criminal convictions.

Police are still searching for two other people who were believed to be in the Hummer. Both are believed to be youths with extensive prior involvement in the criminal justice system.

The man accused in Andrzejczak's death pleaded guilty in June 2008 to being one of seven youths inside a stolen Silverado that was racing a stolen SUV carrying seven other teens down Portage Avenue. The SUV ended up slamming into Lanzellotti's cab, killing him and seriously injuring another occupant.

The accused, who was 16 at the time, was identified by police as the driver of the Silverado but only admitted in court to being an occupant of the vehicle, which peeled off down a side street moments before the fatal crash. He was given 72 days of time in custody, plus two years of supervised probation, which included a curfew and not being in a car without permission.

The accused was back in court this summer, charged with breaching conditions of his probation. Justice sources told the Free Press the boy "went off the deep end" following the sudden death of his grandfather. A judge sentenced him to another year of probation.

Winnipeg police have classified the accused as a Level 4 offender in the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy, which is the maximum designation available and means he is under frequent supervision from police. However, he was not required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

There had been no arrests or criminal allegations since he walked out of court June 23.

"He'd actually been doing very well recently, or at least we thought," a justice official said Tuesday. "Either that or he's become very good at what he does."

Police believe the accused was behind the wheel of a speeding 2005 Hummer H2 that crashed into a Subaru and killed Andrzejczak last Friday afternoon near the corner of Andrews Street and Alfred Avenue. The 47-year-old married father of one was only two blocks from his home.

Police arrested the accused around 6:40 p.m. Monday when officers from the stolen auto unit pulled over a vehicle in the Sargent Park area. He was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the stop.

"The bottom line here is, we have an individual who's lost his life from an individual who is quite simply chronically involved in this type of behaviour," Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said Tuesday. The accused has not been tried and is considered not guilty of charges resulting from Friday's crash.

"It is frustrating for us, there is no question, and members of our stolen auto unit when we are dealing with the same individuals time and time again."

The Hummer was stolen from a parking lot on the 1800 block of Wellington Avenue earlier in the day last Friday.

One of Lanzellotti's relatives said news that one of the 14 youths involved in his death had been linked to another senseless killing was hard to fathom.

"It's been very difficult," she said. "It brings back a lot of feelings."

At the legislature Tuesday, the Conservative Opposition blasted the government for failing to vigorously enforce court orders, especially for the most serious car thieves.

Justice critic Kelvin Goertzen said auto thieves and gang members treat such orders "as a joke." He said the 18-year-old accused in the fatal joyride already had a long history of breaching court orders.

"These criminals know that those court orders are not going to be enforced under this NDP government," Goertzen said in the house.

Attorney General Andrew Swan said provincial governments have been pushing Ottawa for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would allow judges to take deterrence into account when sentencing young offenders.

"That hasn't happened yet. We hope to continue raising our voices," he said.

Swan said the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy has worked well, reducing car thefts by 70 per cent since 2005, but he allowed "more work" needs to be done.


-- with files from Larry Kusch


www.mikeoncrime.com gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca


Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

Read full biography


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