The sentencing hearing for two men accused of killing a Langford man with a hammer in 2018 began in Victoria Law Courts on Tuesday (Nov. 2).
Lee Hart, 40, and Nathen Monsour, 34, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Shawn Campbell earlier this year, after original second-degree murder charges were reduced.
To accommodate all the people who showed up for the hearing, including the family and former partner of Campbell, two courtrooms were full and overflowing. Attendees spent the morning hearing Crown arguments for why the accused men should be sentenced to seven to eight years in prison.
An agreed statement of facts concludes the three men were friends leading up to Campbell’s murder, Monsour and Campbell especially so. In the days before the attack, Campbell assaulted his wife and she later had Monsour over for dinner, causing Campbell to become jealous, court heard. Campbell subsequently damaged Monsour’s apartment and vehicle.
On Sept. 29, 2018 around noon, Monsour discovered the damage and he and Hart headed to Saanich, where they knew Campbell was staying with another friend named Neil Albrecht, following Campbell’s assault on his wife. Monsour and Hart arrived at the Carey Road residence around 3 p.m. and exited their vehicle with hammers in hand.
They found Campbell unarmed outside near the garage doors and attacked him, taking him to the ground where they delivered hammer blows to the back of his head and just above his right eye. Albrecht testified that at one point during the attack he heard what sounded like “the crack of the bone splitting” and someone say “That’s what you get for beating your wife.”
When Albrecht attempted to intervene, Hart swung his hammer at him bruising his chest. Hart has pleaded guilty to an assault with a weapon charge for this, which Crown argued Tuesday deserves a six- to nine-month jail sentence.
When Campbell was motionless on the ground, Monsour and Hart fled the scene in their vehicle, disposing of their hammers along the way. Albrecht attempted first aid on Campbell and called 911, but Campbell died in hospital five days later.
Monsour and Hart were arrested the same day, but were released until they were officially charged in March 2020.
Arguing for the seven to eight-year jail sentences Tuesday, Crown lawyer Alexandra Pace pointed out Hart’s past convictions for possession of a weapon and assault with a weapon, and the two men’s use of weapons and planning in their attack on Campbell.
“This was not a case of a spontaneous action where they automatically regretted their actions,” Pace argued, pointing out that neither man sought medical help for Campbell after attacking him.
In their pre-sentence reports, Monsour and Hart both said their actions had been impacted by “criminal associates.” Hart said he had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol and was sleep deprived at the time of the attack, deflecting responsibility for his actions, according to Pace. Monsour, meanwhile, accepted more responsibility and apologized to anyone affected, but said he felt some relief that Campbell was dead, claiming that he had threatened him and his son before.
Monsour’s sentence will also take into consideration a Gladue report, which requires judges to consider possible impacts of racism and discrimination on Indigenous offenders. Monsour, Pace said, did face foster care and poverty growing up.
The sentencing hearing, including victim impact statements and defence arguments, is expected to continue this week.
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