Calgary

Family of Lukas Strasser-Hird, swarmed in nightclub alley, not happy with killers' sentences

Two men convicted of killing a Calgary teen in a "completely senseless" swarming near a nightclub in 2013 have been handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 12 and 15 years — but the victim's family says that's not long enough.

18-year-old died in hospital after 'completely senseless' attack near Vinyl nightclub

Calgary teen Lukas Strasser-Hird died in 2013 after he was swarmed in an alley outside the Vinyl nightclub. Two men convicted of killing him were handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 12 and 15 years on Monday, while a third man got a shorter sentence on a lesser charge. (Facebook)

Two men convicted of killing a Calgary teen in a "completely senseless" swarming near a nightclub in 2013 have been handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 12 and 15 years — but the victim's family says that's not long enough.

Lukas Strasser-Hird, 18, died in hospital after he was swarmed, beaten and stabbed in an alley outside the Vinyl nightclub at Second Street and 10th Avenue S.W. on Nov. 23, 2013.

Strasser-Hird's father, Dale Hird, said he was hoping the judge would send a stronger message today.

"Honestly, 18 years — the age of my son they brutally killed — that would have been satisfactory for our family," he said. 

Last June, Franz Cabrera and Assmar Shlah were found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder — convictions that come with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for a range of 10 to 25 years.

Joch Pouk was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Glen Poelman ruled Monday that Cabrera will go to prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. Shlah must serve 12 years before he is eligible for parole.

Pouk was handed a sentence of seven years, minus 419 days credit for time served.

Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey characterized Strasser-Hird's death as gratuitously violent and "completely senseless." 

"I understand [the family is] upset. No sentence in this world is going to be satisfactory to anyone in their position," he said. 

"I can't imagine the pain that they have. The only thing that will satisfy them is if Lukas was alive — and no one can do that."

The Crown asked Poelman to set parole eligibility for Cabrera at 17 years — calling him the main aggressor — and at 14 years for Shlah.

Defence lawyers for both men asked for the minimum 10-year benchmark for parole eligibility.

Lawyers Balfour Der and Gavin Wolch represented Assmar Shlah and Franz Cabrera, respectively. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Cabrera's lawyer, Gavin Wolch, said his client was only 19 at the time of the incident, had no criminal record, and had a promising future as a skilled roofer.

"If it weren't the minimum, I'd be asking for less than 10 years," he said.

Balfour Der told the court that his client, Shlah, only joined the attack towards the end.

"Death is caused already when my client comes in," he said.

Poelman asked the three men facing sentencing if they had anything to say. Cabrera and Shlah said nothing, but Pouk said: "I hope the family finds closure." 

Pouk's lawyer told court his client should get a five-year sentence — minus a year and a half for time already served — for his manslaughter conviction.

The Crown had argued that he should get an eight-year term, minus time served. 

A fourth man, Jordan Liao, was found not guilty of second-degree murder.

A fifth man, Nathan Gervais, was charged with first-degree murder, but disappeared weeks before the trial began while he was out on bail. He remains at large.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story had a headline stating that Franz Cabrera and Assmar Shlah got 15- and 12-year sentences. In fact, second-degree murder convictions come with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for a range of 10 to 25 years. The judge decided Cabrera must serve 15 years and Shlah must serve 12 years before being eligible for parole.
    Jan 16, 2017 2:20 PM MT

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