BC security guard who killed man in choke-hold gets house arrest | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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BC security guard who killed man in choke-hold gets house arrest

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A B.C. security guard who was found guilty of manslaughter for using a choke-hold that accidentally killed a man has been sentenced to 18 months house arrest.

Jack Cruthers Hutchison, 51, was working security at Trinity Western University Sept. 30, 2020 when he was called to deal with a man dressed in black lurking in student dorms at the height of the COVID lockdown. Students said they were scared because it appeared the man, later identified as Howard Hill, was either on drugs or experiencing a mental health disorder.

Hutchison, 5’4” and 150 pounds, found Hill, age 30, 6’3” and weighed 195 pounds and managed to tackle him to the ground and held him in the choke-hold while students called 911. Police got there within 13 minutes, but by then Hill was unresponsive and pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.

READ MORE: B.C. security guard who used chokehold guilty of manslaughter

Justice Catherine Murray seemed to know her decision on sentence would not go over well with Hill’s family, who were in court.

“To (Hill)’s family — I could see how difficult and painful this trial was for you. Your victim impact statements were heartbreaking. Your grief is palpable. Almost all of you express anger in your victim impact statements for what you take as Mr. Hutchison’s lack of remorse.

“I must say something about that. The courtroom is not a healing place. It is an adversarial system; not a restorative one. It is not really the forum in which you would hear an accused person express remorse. But just as have I watched you throughout the trial, I have watched Mr. Hutchison. He is clearly a broken man. I firmly believe that he is not broken because of the circumstances in which he finds himself. I truly believe that he is broken because he caused (Hill)’s death. I could see that his address at the end of the day last week did not resonate with you. It is clear from his testimony and his comments last day that Mr. Hutchison has trouble expressing himself. When he told you last day that he will be overcome by sadness about (Hill)’s death for the rest of his life, I accept that. I further accept that Mr. Hutchison will likely never forgive himself for Mr. Hill’s death.”

There is no minimum or maximum sentence for manslaughter, it covers a wrongful death from near accident to near murder. In this case, Murray said although she rejected Hutchison’s defence of accident, she believed he did not know he was putting pressure of vital vessels. She believed Hutchison when he said he thought he was using his hold safely.

She called it “an error of judgment” while trying to protect himself and students.

“This is a very challenging sentencing. On the one hand, it is difficult to comprehend that a man could cause another man to lose his life and not go to jail. But on the other hand, I find that Mr. Hutchison acted in the heat of the moment, motivated only to protect himself and others as was his duty as a security guard. He does not pose a danger to others. He is not a violent man. He is an upstanding member of the community. He adds value to the community. There is no need to protect the community from Mr. Hutchison. In fact, the community is a better place with him in it.”

Hutchison was sentenced to 18 months in prison to be served at home under a conditional sentence order.

“I know from being involved in the justice system for almost 40 years that nothing that happens in this courtroom will bring any of you peace or solace,” she told Hill’s family and friends. “Nothing I do here will bring your beloved (Howard) back. No verdict or sentence will ever fill the void in your hearts or in your lives.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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