A man who pleaded guilty in connection with the January 2012 death of Ryan Saint Ange apologized to the victim’s family during his sentencing hearing on Monday in Abbotsford provincial court.
“I don’t think there are any words in the English language that can define how I really feel,” Shayne Vauthrin said through sobs.
“I have to live with it every day of my life. I never meant for any of this to happen, but it happened and I can’t take it away.”
Vauthrin said he hopes Saint Ange’s family can forgive him for his actions, but he understands if they can’t.
Several of the victim’s family members and friends were in the packed courtroom for the hearing, which ended with Judge Brent Hoy sentencing Vauthrin to a nine-year prison term for manslaughter with a firearm.
Vauthrin, 28, has about seven years left of his sentence, after credit is given for the time he has served in pretrial custody since turning himself in to police on Feb. 19, 2012.
Vauthrin was initially charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser manslaughter charge before a trial date was set.
Saint Ange, 21, was found dead just after midnight on Jan. 14, 2012 by a friend who had dropped by to visit him at his home in the 27700 block of 56 Avenue in Abbotsford.
Although others lived in the home, nobody else was there when the friend arrived.
Vauthrin was identified as a person of interest, and he turned himself in just over a month later.
Evidence presented at Vauthrin’s sentencing hearing is banned from publication until after his co-accused, Robert Adam Van Dusen, goes to trial. The evidence includes any details of the crime and the investigation that followed.
A trial date has not yet been set for Van Dusen.
Prior to the judge’s decision at Vauthrin’s hearing, both Crown and defence lawyers were in agreement of a nine-year jail term.
Vauthrin’s lawyer, Deanne Gaffar, asked the judge to take into account several mitigating factors in coming to his sentencing decision.
She said among these factors was Vauthrin’s “significant remorse,” which, in part, was exhibited by an apology letter he wrote to the family after he turned himself in, and by his reaction when she told him Crown would be seeking a nine-year sentence.
“He immediately said, ‘That’s the sentence, because that’s the responsibility I have to take,’ ” Gaffar said, adding that Vauthrin did not want her to seek a lower term.
Gaffar also asked the judge to consider the efforts Vauthrin has taken toward changing his life while in prison. Prior to his incarceration, he was a “heavy user” of pot and cocaine who smoked 15 to 20 marijuana joints a day, she said.
While in jail, he has upgraded his high school education, participated in addictions counselling, and taken part in an employment program, she said.
“The prospects here for rehabilitation are significant,” Gaffar said.
Saint Ange’s family declined to comment outside of the courtroom.