British Columbia

Family of Luka Gordic slams killers at sentencing hearing

Three men convicted in the death of Luka Gordic appeared in court Friday, where Luka Gordic's family members read victim impact statements.

Men convicted in death of Luka Gordic appeared in court, where Gordic's family members read impact statements

Luka Gordic was stabbed and killed in 2015 by a group of teenagers in Whistler. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Dozens of Luka Gordic's friends and family shed tears inside a crowded courtroom Friday while a judge heard sorrowful statements from those hit hardest by the 19-year-old's tragic death.

Gordic's mother, Clara, was among those who stood in front of the court to read an impact statement. She held up a picture of her son while the men convicted in his death listened quietly, avoiding her gaze.

'Sick to my stomach'

"I wanted to bring a picture of Luka's dead body to remind you all of what you did to him — but that wasn't permitted," Clara Gordic said while staring toward the three men.

"I get sick to my stomach when I think of what [you] did," she said. "The emptiness of losing Luka is like a life-sentence … I will never forget Luka, nor will I ever forget you."

The proceeding marked the end of a week-long sentencing hearing for the accused, which also included an apology to the victim's family.

Two of the men have been convicted of manslaughter, the other with second-degree murder. Their identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act since they were all 17 when the attack took place.

A fourth man — Arvin Golic — was found guilty of manslaughter in June 2017. He was 18 at the time of the attack, and has since been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Two separate stabbings took place during the 2015 Whistler May long weekend. (Belle Puri/CBC)

A parent's sorrow

Gordic visited Whistler during the 2015 May long weekend. In the early morning of May 17, he was swarmed and stabbed to death by a group of teenagers outside a 7-11 store in Whistler Village.

Clara Gordic says she received a phone call from police that her son "was hurt." She and her husband, Mitch, immediately left their home in Burnaby and drove to the resort municipality.

"About 10 minutes before reaching Whistler Village, we were informed by the police officer — over the telephone — that Luka had passed away," she said.

The pair went to the Whistler Health Care Centre, but weren't allowed to see their son.

"I cried in the backseat of the car with a pillow all the way back to Burnaby," she said.

Luka Gordic, pictured here as a baby, was the youngest of his siblings, incuding two brothers and a sister. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Mitch Gordic did not appear in court due to health complications, which the Crown said have been exacerbated by the stress of losing his son and attending court proceedings. His statement was read by Crown counsel Henry Reiner.

"The death of my son Luka is the worst thing that life could throw at me," read Mitch Gordic's statement. "The dreams of my past were that of Luka's future. I dream no more. Now, only nightmares clog my sleep."

"Our Luka died violently, senselessly, with knife wounds. He slowly, painfully bled to death on the concrete floor. I pray that Luka did not know of his life ending," said Gordic's statement.

Family members described Luka Gordic as a "ray of light" who was loved dearly by his large and tight-knit family. Before his death, his family had planned a trip to Europe where he was to be baptized.

More than 1,500 people attended his funeral.

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Sentenced as adults

The Crown is seeking adult sentencing for the remaining three accused, who are now in their twenties.

Reiner said they were very close to being adults at the time of Gordic's death. An adult sentence would likely mean a significantly longer term in prison.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes said the court will reconvene in early August. From there, the court will decide on a date for sentencing.

A picture of Luka Gordic when he was younger sits on the bed in his old room at his family's home in Burnaby, B.C. (Mike McArthur/CBC)