Winnipeg store owner gets 5 years for plotting to murder business partner
Justice Vic Toews rejects defence recommendation of 6 months in jail
A Winnipeg man convicted of plotting to kill his business partner has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Amare Gebru, 44, was convicted of one count each of counselling to commit murder and counselling to commit robbery following a trial last spring.
During the sentencing on Monday, Justice Vic Toews rejected a defence recommendation of under six months in jail.
The defence was hoping to protect Gebru, who immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in 2006, from facing deportation proceedings, which are automatic in any sentence six months or longer.
"In my opinion, there is nothing in the facts presented to me … which would justify the sentence requested by the defence," Toews said.
"In my opinion, to impose a custodial sentence of less than six months is not proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender."
Gebru had made a living renovating and selling houses until 2011, when he and a family friend became joint owners of Teddy's Convenience store at the corner of Balmoral Street and Sargent Avenue.
The business relationship soured after just three months and Gebru believed his partner was stealing from him, court was told.
Gebru approached a regular customer and asked him to rob the store's other owner when she made the nightly deposit at a nearby bank.
Over time, however, the plan changed and Gebru told the man he wanted his partner killed instead, court heard. As an inducement, Gebru offered to help the man buy a house or give him a share in the business.
The man reported the murder plot to Gebru's partner, who then called police. Court heard police recorded several phone conversations and face-to-face meetings between Gebru and the would-be assassin before arresting Gebru May 31, 2012.
Defence lawyer Mike Cook described Gebru as a "very good man [who did] a bad thing." Cook said Gebru might face torture if deported to Ethiopia, where he had opposed the ruling government.
Cook said Gebru intends to appeal both his sentence and conviction.
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