December 12, 2019

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Calgary man pleads guilty to killing teen while high on meth

<p>From left, Brenda, John, and Hannah Harris, family members of Ben Harris, near a makeshift memorial in the R.M. of St. Andrews where he was killed in a hit-and-run in 2018.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

From left, Brenda, John, and Hannah Harris, family members of Ben Harris, near a makeshift memorial in the R.M. of St. Andrews where he was killed in a hit-and-run in 2018.

A Calgary man has admitted he was high on methamphetamine and behind the wheel of a stolen truck when he killed 15-year-old Ben Harris and injured another teen in St. Andrews.

In a courtroom packed with Harris’s family members and friends, 30-year-old Justin Little pleaded guilty Wednesday to impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident in connection to the Aug. 10, 2018 crash, as well as two unrelated counts of mischief and theft of a motor vehicle.

Family photo of Ben Harris who was killed in a hit and run in St. Andrews in 2018.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Family photo of Ben Harris who was killed in a hit and run in St. Andrews in 2018.

At the time of the crash, Little was the subject of two arrest warrants in Alberta and had been recently released on bail in Winnipeg after being arrested for stealing a car.

"I hate to sound critical of the justice department, but we’ve been waiting over a year to have our questions answered with regard to how the accused was released," Harris’s father John said outside court. "We still haven’t been able to have a proper sit-down with the justice minister."

Harris and his friend were on their bicycles heading home for a sleepover when Little hit them.

Harris’s mother Brenda left the courtroom crying as Crown attorney Manoja Moorthy outlined the circumstances of her son’s death.

Court heard RCMP were responding to a report of an erratic driver shortly before midnight when an officer came upon a stolen 2009 GMC Canyon truck that had crashed into a residential yard near the intersection of Highway 9 and Donald Road.

Police found Harris dead in a ditch and his friend on the ground by his bicycle, calling 911.

"Harris had no signs of life and his body had several deep cuts, several larger broken bones and looked twisted and mangled," Moorthy told court, reading from an agreed statement of facts.

A police dog tracked Little to a residence 400 metres away where he was hiding in the backseat of a car.

Little "did not initially comply with the demand to get out of the vehicle" and had to be pulled out by the police dog, Moorthy said.

Little, who had needles in his possession, admitted to shooting meth earlier that day, Moorthy said.

A blood sample taken from Little confirmed the meth level in his blood was "in the toxic range" at the time of the collision, Moorthy said.

When taken into custody, Little asked a police officer if Harris had died. When told he had, Little "cried and proceeded to say ‘I’m never going to see my six-year-old boy again,’" Moorthy told court.

"Good," somebody from the court gallery replied.

Little remains in custody. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12 to 14 in Selkirk.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 5:47 PM CST: Adds photos

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