14 year old murdered over a “bike” What is happening in this country?
Yesterday a 14-year-old boy was assaulted in Hamilton outside his school and stabbed to death allegedly over a bicycle. This case draws attention to so many possible legal issues. Problems with youth crime and appropriate punishment. This is an obvious case of bullying. What was the role of social media? Was social media bullying part of this tragedy as well? The allegations as reported indicate that the young boy was attacked by a number of others while on watchers recorded the incident on the cell phones. Some people are demanding that those that were recording the incident be charged with aiding and abetting because by the very nature of recording the incident they encouraged and incited the crime.
Again, we have the issue of the presence of weapons in our community.
If the accused had not succumbed to his wounds there are a number of charges in the criminal code that would have applied – aggravated assault, assault cause bodily harm, assault with a weapon, weapons dangerous.
However, the suspects, in this case, will most certainly face first-degree murder charges. Other possible charges are 2nd-degree murder and manslaughter. In fact, at the time of writing 2 of the 4 (so far) are charged with first-degree murder. The other two were arrested for first-degree murder but again as of the time of writing have yet to be formally charged.
The age of those charged will have a significant impact on the process. There are 4 individuals, 14, two 16-year-old persons and one 18 years old. Those under 18 are youths and start with a prosecution under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The Crown can apply to have them tried as an adult and punished as an adult.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act does allow judges to impose an adult sentence on a youth who is found guilty of a serious offense and was 14 years of age or older when the crime was committed. In fact, prosecutors are obligated to consider seeking an adult sentence when a youth is found guilty of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or aggravated sexual assault. However, the Act allows provinces to raise the age at which this obligation applies to 15 or 16.
When a judge decides to impose an adult sentence, the Criminal Code penalties for adult offenders are applied to the youth. This can include mandatory minimum penalties and sentences of up to life imprisonment. However, no portion of either an adult or youth sentence can be served in an adult prison while the youth is still under the age of 18.
The 18-year-old is an adult under the law and if convicted could face a life sentence of 25 years without parole.
This was clearly a senseless crime, committed by young individuals. However, the context is most disturbing, the bullying – 4 attacking 1, the use of a weapon, the fact that onlookers stood by and used their cell phones to video. The issues are simple and complex at the same time. What can we do to prevent this type of tragedy in the future? One child is gone, a family is devastated, 4 others are facing a life sentence in jail.