Calgary

Two-time killer pleads guilty and walks free after serving time in segregation

Three and a half years after he turned himself in, and having spent a year in segregation, Daniel Boyd Sawyer will be released from jail today after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Daniel Sawyer, 34, involved in fight that led to Alan Beach's death in 2015

Daniel Sawyer pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Alan Beach, who was stabbed outside a Red Deer bar in 2015. (Edmonton Police)

Three and a half years after he turned himself in, and having spent a year in segregation, Daniel Boyd Sawyer will be released from jail today after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Justice Rosemary Nation called Sawyer's life "another tragic failure of parenting" as she handed down a five-year sentence. Because he gets enhanced credit for the time he's already served, the two-time killer will be a free man by Thursday evening. 

Alan Beach, 31, died in November 2015 from stab wounds he suffered outside the Blarney Stone Pub in Red Deer.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Sawyer, 34, pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. 

"Sawyer was one of the men involved in the events that led to Mr. Beach's death," reads an agreed statement of facts.

"There were multiple perpetrators of this homicide and the accused, Mr. Sawyer, was a party to that offence."

Mistrial declared 

There was no evidence Sawyer was the one who stabbed Beach. Video surveillance shows he hit the victim once.

Even still, prosecutors who were previously assigned to the case commenced a murder trial. In January, amid defence allegations of abuse of process, a Red Deer judge declared a mistrial. Defence lawyer Chris Archer told Nation today that "previous Crown faced a high likelihood of becoming witnesses."

New prosecutors — Photini Papadatou and Joshua Chan — were brought in to take over the case and negotiated a plea with Archer.

According to the facts of the case, Sawyer and his friend Vasilios Georgopoulos were drinking together at the pub on the night of Nov. 18, 2015.

Beach owed a drug debt to Georgopoulos. When the victim went outside for a cigarette, he was attacked. 

Sawyer and at least one other man joined in, and Beach was stabbed at least three times.

Nine days after Beach died, Sawyer turned himself in to police.

'You are free'

Georgopoulos was charged with manslaughter, but in 2017, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

Archer said his client has spent more than a year of his time in custody in segregation — and at times when he was not, he was often triple bunked at various remand centres around the province.

Sawyer's lengthy criminal record includes another manslaughter conviction, in 2005, for which he served a four-year sentence.

Nation asked about Sawyer's connection to his Indigenous background. 

Sawyer was raised by a grandmother and was eventually put in foster care, Nation noted. He was drinking alcohol by the age of 10 and grew up in a world of drug-addicted adults. 

"You had to deal with many issues in your life," Nation said, addressing Sawyer directly. "I hope you have success in the future with these issues."

Sawyer nodded at the judge as she told him life "is about choices" and encouraged him to seek the support of his family so that he could become a productive member of society.

"You've served your debt to society ... you are free."

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.