British Columbia

'Nothing's going to bring my brother back': stabbing victim's family says sentence brings no closure

Robert Tyson Smith was 28 years old when he was stabbed to death by a stranger in the heart of Vancouver's busy entertainment district. On Tuesday, the man who pulled the knife, Kenneth Bryson Williams, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Man who stabbed Robert Tyson Smith, 28, to death sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 10 years

Robert Tyson Smith, left, got out of his taxi on Granville Street to try to stop two men from kicking and yelling at it. Kenneth Bryson Williams stabbed Smith to death during the fight that followed. (Adam Smith)

The family of a man who was stabbed to death by a stranger in the heart of Vancouver's busy entertainment district said the offender's sentence brings them no closure.

On Tuesday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced Kenneth Bryson Williams, 26, to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

He was drunk when he stabbed Robert Tyson Smith to death during an altercation in February 2014.

Smith had stepped out of the cab after two men began kicking and yelling at the car. A confrontation ensued with first one and then a second man intervening. The second man, Kenneth Bryson Williams, stabbed Smith in the shoulder and in the chest.

Smith died from his injuries.

Williams was convicted of second degree murder in November 2016. It comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

'Our family is serving a life sentence'

Crown lawyers were pushing to increase the period of parole ineligibility from 10 to 12 years.

But citing William's age, his Aboriginal heritage and his prospects for rehabilitation, Justice Patrice Abrioux ruled Tuesday 10 years was a more appropriate sentence.

The victim's brother, Adam Smith, (pictured above) said outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver that no sentence would have been good enough him and his family. (Jacy Schindel)

Outside B.C. Supreme Court, Adam Smith — the victim's brother — called it a disappointing sentence.

"It would have been nice to see maybe a little more on his parole [ineligibility]. Because he's been protected all the way through and my family hasn't," said Smith.

"My family and I are all serving a life sentence."

Smith and his father read victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing, detailing how they've suffered since his death.

Williams has been in custody since November of 2014.

That means he could be eligible for parole in less than eight years.

"At the end of the trial, I remember the judge saying that our criminal justice system was the envy of the world," said Smith.

"I can honestly say it's not. The only people who envy our system are the criminals."

Gladue factors in Aboriginal sentencing

In explaining his ruling, Justice Abrioux acknowledged the seriousness of the offence.

He said the evidence showed that Williams brought the knife with him that night, when he knew he was going to be out in the city's entertainment district.

Abrioux added that Smith had no chance to protect himself against Williams, who interjected himself into a fight between two people.

But the judge said he must consider the Gladue principle in the sentencing — that is, the recognition of the adverse cultural impact many Aboriginals face

"The Gladue factors are not insignificant in this case," said Abrioux.

The judge referred to Williams tumultuous upbringing, where he witnessed the abuse of his mother at the hands of different men.

He also referred to his mother's struggle with alcoholism that became his own struggle at a young age.

"I find that his Aboriginal heritage and his personal circumstances ... are all relevant to take into account."

Williams will serve his sentence at the Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village — a minimum security institution for Aboriginal men — near Harrison Mills, B.C.