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Harshest sentence for axe-wielding youth

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/7/2013 (1481 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg teen who killed a pizza-delivery man with an axe told jail officials last week he doesn't care "if I get another murder charge."

"It's all good," he boasted following yet another violent incident with inmates behind bars.

Gerald Crayford


Gerald Crayford

But the high-risk 17-year-old won't get that opportunity -- at least not in the community -- for a long time after being handed the maximum sentence allowed by law.

The teen pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder for the May 2011 attack at Pizza Hotline that killed 56-year-old Gerald Crayford. He returned to court Tuesday for sentencing.

Provincial court Judge Rocky Pollack had previously ruled the teen should be given an adult sentence, which means an automatic life term behind bars. The only remaining question was how long he must wait until he can apply for parole.

Pollack agreed Tuesday with Crown attorney Lisa Carson's request for seven years, which is the most a youth offender sentenced as an adult can receive. The teen had been seeking five years, which is the minimum. There is no guarantee of release, and it's possible he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"This sickened me when I think of how vicious the violence was," Pollack said Tuesday.

Pollack said earlier this year the teen, who was 15 at the time of the homicide and turns 18 in October, can't be rehabilitated by a youth sentence in which his maximum jail time would have been just four years.

The adult sentence also allows for the teen's name to be published because he is no longer protected by the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. However, that can't occur until his 30-day appeal process ends.

Crayford was a delivery man for the Pizza Hotline store on Concordia Avenue when he walked into a robbery in progress May 15, 2011.

The teen, who was armed with an axe, and an accomplice threatened the clerk. Crayford tried to stop the robbery. The accomplice pulled Crayford off the teen, who struck Crayford in the head twice with the blunt end of the axe.

The incident was captured on video. Crayford died the next day.

"This was serious, gratuitous violence," Carson said Tuesday.

The teen appeared to be in charge of the robbery, directing his accomplice, and stole the till when they were unable to open it, taking it back to his house. There was $2,000 in it. The two suspects were arrested the following day.

Co-accused Byron Bushie, who was 18 at the time, hasn't faced trial and is presumed innocent.

Pollack said the teen's actions leading up to and after the robbery show he's unlikely to be rehabilitated by the shorter youth sentence. He said the teen bragged about the crime, re-enacted it on video using cellphones stolen from the store and told his girlfriend "it felt cool to kill someone."

"His rehabilitation is still at the starting line," Pollack said Tuesday. He noted the teen has racked up a lengthy list of incidents behind bars, including threatening and fighting with other youth inmates.

Court also heard the teen's mother, grandmother and sister helped him hide the axe, which police later found. They were never charged.

Read more by Mike McIntyre.


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Updated on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 8:44 AM CDT: adds photo

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