Four drunk and stoned under-age Indigenous people on a 24-hour bender. With illegal guns. What could possibly go wrong?
For German tourist Horst Stewin and his family, visiting Alberta on August 2, 2018, everything.
That day a 24-hour drug- and alcohol- fueled bender, thoughts of revenge, illegal possession of firearms and a case of mistaken identity disastrously collided.
The all-but-inevitable result?
Horst Stewin was shot in the head. The injury, while not fatal, caused a significant and permanent injury to his brain.
On April 23, 2020, the young Indigenous offender T.B., whose identity is protected by Section 24 of the Youth Justice Act, was sentenced to 14 months in jail and another seven months house arrest for aggravated assault and recklessly discharging a firearm.
T.B. was convicted of those offences on October 18, 2019.
Because the shooter, now 18, was held in custody for the past 15 months, Judge George Gaschler released him from custody.
“A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree or responsibility for the offender. And the particular background and circumstances of the offenders, especially Indigenous offenders, must be taken into account,” Judge Gaschler said.
A year and a half in jail doesn’t feel “proportionate to the gravity of the offence” to Daniel Stewin, Horst Stewin’s son, nor does it feel like any concern was given to the man whose life was destroyed.
“The insurance only paid until May of this year. He may lose his house and needs to live on the money he saved over the years,” Daniel Stewin wrote in a letter read at the sentencing hearing.
“He cannot remember the names of things. We are not able to understand a lot of the things he is saying. Because of this he is very aggressive and violent toward his family. He’s starting to realize what happened. He has serious suicidal ideation.”
The driver of the vehicle T.B. fired the gun from testified he thought Horst Stewin’s black Dodge Durango belonged to someone who beat up his younger brother.
All four juvenile indigenous occupants of the vehicle were drinking and doing meth the day Horst Stewin’s life and the lives of his family were destroyed.
T.B. even admitted he was the person who shot Horst Stewin in the head in a series of Facebook Messenger posts.
From the transcript of R v T.B., 2019 ABPC 260:
August 2, 7:35 P.M.
T.S. : Cops looking for me cause I shot somebody in the head
T.S. : That was me
T.S. : [Shares link to news article: Cochrane Eagle and photograph covering the shooting]
“I find the Facebook conversation Exhibit 8 is not hearsay but an admission against interest. It is made with the obvious knowledge by T.B. that he was vulnerable to penal consequence as demonstrated by the opening statement: “cops looking for me….”. I find that the Facebook messages are an admission by T.B. that he was the shooter,” wrote Judge Gaschler.
None of the juvenile indigenous occupants of the vehicle could legally possess firearms and ammunition, yet this issue was never addressed by the court.
Someone bought the gun used to destroy Horst Stewin’s life.
Somehow that gun came into the possession of one of the occupants of the Indigenous youth’s vehicle.
My obvious questions are simple.
Who bought the firearm and ammunition used to shoot Horst Stewin in the head?
Did one or more of the four Indigenous youths steal the firearm and ammunition from that individual or did that person give it to them?
Why didn’t the police or the judge care to learn where the firearm and ammunition came from?
Lastly, why does the Youth Criminal Justice Act appear to care more about violent young criminals than the people whose lives they destroy?