UPDATE: Man who stabbed acquaintance outside Kamloops restaurant gets six-year sentence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

UPDATE: Man who stabbed acquaintance outside Kamloops restaurant gets six-year sentence

Eric Bradley Charlie
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
Original Publication Date February 28, 2018 - 11:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - A man convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing death of an acquaintance outside of a sushi restaurant has been handed a six-year prison sentence.

Eric Charlie, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter. Crown wanted to see a sentence of six to eight years behind bars, while Charlie's defence lawyer told the court earlier today that four to six years would be appropriate.

The afternoon of Jan. 22, 2016, John Southwell and Tanya Thomas, who had a romantic relationship, ran into Charlie on the street. The trio went to the Tranquille Liquor Store where they purchased some liquor and cigarettes before heading to The Duchess on Tranquille.

They split two drinks between the three of them, Crown prosecutor Alex Janse read into the record from an agreed statement of facts today, Feb. 28.

The group was asked to leave by staff, who thought they were drinking alcohol that had not been purchased at the establishment, Janse said.

After being kicked out, Charlie, Thomas and Southwell made their way to Hatsuki Sushi. Southwell went inside to take out cash but staff told him he wasn't allowed to, Janse said.

While he was inside the restaurant, an argument broke out between Thomas and Charlie outside of the building, Janse told Kamloops Supreme Court. Southwell went outside and a very public argument broke out between Southwell and Charlie.

Janse said Charlie ended up stabbing Southwell in the stomach and took off. Southwell was taken to Royal Inland Hospital and despite medical intervention, died six hours later.

Charlie was arrested on March 6, 2016.

Charlie was originally charged with second-degree murder, but following a preliminary inquiry his charge was downgraded to manslaughter and he pleaded guilty last year.

Manslaughter is defined by the Criminal Code as homicide without an intention to cause death.

Second-degree murder is defined by the Criminal Code as all murder that is not first-degree. First-degree murder is defined as planned and deliberate, which can include a contracted murder, the murder of a peace officer, if hi-jacking, sexual assault or kidnapping are involved, when criminal harassment is involved, or if the person who committed the murder did so for the benefit of a criminal organization.

Charlie pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July of last year. Janse told the court he has 83 convictions on his criminal record, and he was released from prison on another offence just two weeks before committing the manslaughter of Southwell.

"Mr. Charlie has an unenviable history," Janse said.

His criminal record goes back years and Janse says it has been "virtually unbroken" up until two weeks before Southwell's death.

At that time, Charlie was released from prison after being sentenced for contempt of court. He had identified himself to police with an alias and was charged and sentenced under a false identity which bore no criminal record.

"His criminal record is both relevant and aggravating," Janse said.

Charlie addressed Southwell's family in the court.

"I just want to apologize to the family. I'm really sorry for what I did," he said through tears. "I just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."

Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley gave his decision today, Feb. 28, with both Charlie's and Southwell's family members in attendance.

"Mr. Charlie has had a difficult, chaotic, and very abusive upbringing," Dley said, referring to a Gladeu report filed in court. It's a type of pre-sentence report which looks at factors specifically relating to Aboriginal offneders.

In the report, Dley said, Charlie talks about how he didn't think he would harm Southwell, as he had a thick jacket on. Instead he wanted to scare him off.

He said although Charlie's remorse toward Southwell's family was genuine and heartfelt, it didn't detract from the "senseless violence" that led to Southwell's death. 

Dley said manslaughter can range from near accident to near murder, and although this offence was closer toward the bottom of the spectrum, it was nowhere near the bottom.

"Mr. Charlie needs time, he needs some assistance to overcome his shortcomings."

Charlie was sentenced to six years minus credit for time served, which means he'll serve approximately three years of new time.

For more on this case, and on Charlie's background, go here.

— This story was updated at 2:35 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, to include information from Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley's decision, and more information from the Canadian Criminal Code.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 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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