Alphonse Brendon Menard will serve 18 months in jail followed by a two-year term of probation for the shooting death of his father, Nanaimo businessman Tony Menard, 52.
That sentence was handed down Monday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Duncan by Judge Nathan Smith. Brendon Menard, 24, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Crown prosecutor Scott Van Alstine had been seeking a prison term of between three and five years. Defence lawyer Bert King was lobbying for a suspended sentence.
Smith faced imposing a decision ranging from life in prison to a suspended sentence based on past manslaughter cases of similar significance.
“The sentences are all over the map,” he conceded.
Outside the courtroom afterward, King said he didn’t have any qualms with the judge’s decision.
“It’s as fair as it could ever be in my view,” he said. “Nobody could say that wasn’t fair in all of the circumstances.”
King said he made it very clear to Menard and his family members that jail time was a real possibility.
King agreed with Smith’s overall assessment of the situation.
“There needed to be some deterrence for the other members of the public,” said King.
Menard’s family was united in its belief that he should not receive any jail time.
“They were hopeful because of his diminished capacity and his epilepsy, that would prevail,” said King.
He was sympathetic the family would be without a brother and a son for 18 months, but put the decision into perspective.
“This is not life in prison,” said King. “Life goes on.
“This is a very unusual case. This is not a bar fight.”
King immediately dismissed any thought of an appeal.
“It’s just not in the cards,” he said. “This is clearly in the range (for sentencing).”
If Menard did intend to appeal, King said he’d have to get another lawyer because he won’t be a part of it.
Van Alstine was not immediately available for a comment.
Family members left the courtroom distraught and friends of Tony Menard felt the sentence was too lenient. The two sides exchanged some verbal jarring outside the court.
“I just thought it’s too bad Brendon’s got sent to jail,” said friend Eric Stevenson. “He’s a great guy.”
The circumstances of the shooting revolved around a camping trip near Bamfield over three days in early July of 2010.
“A large amount of alcohol had been consumed at the campsite on Friday and Saturday night,” noted Smith.
Brendon, his dad and friends were shooting at bottles. Tony Menard had gone to set up new targets when Brendon fired five shots with a .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle with a scope.
One of the bullets penetrated Tony Menard’s heart, left lung, kidney and stomach.
“Tony Menard was dead when an air ambulance arrived at the scene 2 1/2 hours after the shooting,” Smith pointed out.
Brendon Menard was viewed as being in a zombie-like state after the shooting. “His speech at that point was described as mumbling and gibberish,” said Smith.
Menard had been suffering from seizures for about five years. The complex partial seizures were characterized by disassociation and lack of awareness.
Menard had taken various medications to control the symptoms from the seizures and the effects of a 2004 car accident.
Alcohol consumption and a lack of sleep were known to be problematic for Menard.
“Stress was also a known triggering factor,” said Smith.
Through it all, “there was no evidence of any argument between Brendon Menard and his father,” Smith said.
All indications are Menard was truly remorseful after the shooting and cooperated fully with authorities.
Van Alstine stuck to his guns there was some intent because of the manner in which Menard aimed and raised his rifle.
Smith said he agreed with Van Alstine that a higher degree of culpability was necessary than a suspended sentence.
“This case involves the respect for and protection of human life,” said Smith.
“The circumstances are capable of repetition. He and others must be deterred.
“There’s no need to separate him from society on any long-term basis.”
Whether it’s viewed as gross negligence or a horrific family tragedy, “Mr. Menard will be punished for the rest of his life by the guilt and remorse he feels,” Smith said.
King said Menard, who has no criminal record, will be sent to Wilkinson Road in Victoria first for classification.
“There’s no risk to other members of the prison population,” said King, adding he hoped Menard could eventually be placed at the Brannen Lake Correctional facility in Nanaimo. “There’s no risk to the public.”
Once Menard serves his 18 months, several conditions were placed on his probationary term, including a lifetime firearms prohibition.