A man found guilty of bludgeoning another man to death in south Nanaimo in 2017 was handed a six-year sentence, minus four years for time served.
John Albert Buchanan was sentenced in Nanaimo courthouse Tuesday, April 13. He was intially charged with second-degree murder after Richard Sitar was found dead in his apartment near Nanaimo’s downtown in September 2017, but the dynamics between the two men were a consideration for Judge Robin Baird, who found Buchanan guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo in January.
Leanne Mascolo and Catherine Hagen, co-Crown counsel sought 6-8 years of jail time for Buchanan, while Michael Munro, defence, sought time served and three-year’s probation.
Buchanan was sentenced to six years and four months and will receive credit for four years and four months of time served. He will serve his sentence at a provincial corrections facility. He was also handed a lifetime weapons ban.
During the trial, Crown said Buchanan had gone to the apartment to pick up drugs previously purchased, but which Sitar had already consumed.
Evidence was presented depicting Sitar as someone who bullied and abused Buchanan, including a June 2017 incident in which Sitar pepper sprayed the accused at a McDonald’s restaurant on Nicol Street and a separate incident when Sitar threatened to kill Buchanan’s girlfriend while brandishing a gun.
Expert witnesses testified that a bat or a similar instrument was likely used to kill Sitar, with the coroner stating blunt force trauma was the cause of death. However, police were never able to recover any such item.
Also part of Crown’s case was testimony from someone familiar with Buchanan and whose identity is protected by a publication ban. The person said that Buchanan detailed the murder, including the use of a bat, which Buchanan said he subsequently bleached and buried.
Video evidence showed Buchanan entering, then leaving Sitar’s apartment the day of the incident.
Addressing the court before being sentenced, Buchanan said he was sorry for what he did and hoped it would never happen again.
The judge said bludgeoning Sitar to death was violent and he wanted Buchanan to “get it through his skull” that it was a thin margin between the verdict for second-degree murder and manslaughter. However, he said a provincial sentence would be better for Buchanan.
Munro stated that Buchanan has been clean since his 2017 arrest and Baird said “dropping” him into a federal penitentiary would expose him to peril, including access to drugs, which he said is reduced in the provincial system.
Despite his client receiving more jail time, Munro was satisfied with the sentence.
“I thought it’s a fit sentence and I think it took into consideration what both sides were making argument about,” Munro told the News Bulletin after the hearing.
Hagen and Mascolo declined to comment. Sitar’s widow also did not want to comment.