Edmonton

Edmonton man sentenced to 8½ years for unintentional shotgun killing

Matthew Campeau, 27, has been sentenced to 8½ years in prison for the February 2019 manslaughter death of Desmond Gordon, 42.

Matthew Campeau called the manslaughter he committed ‘senseless’

Desmond Gordon, 42, was gunned down in his own home in February 2019. (Forevermissed.com)

An Edmonton man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the February 2019 death of 42-year-old Desmond Gordon apologized Monday to the victim's family and his own parents.

"What I've done was senseless," Matthew Campeau, 27, told an Edmonton courtroom.

"It was so easily avoided ... I had no right to do what I did that night." 

Accepting a joint sentencing submission from the Crown and defence, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Eric Macklin sentenced Campeau to 8½ years in prison.

With credit for time served, he has just over six years left in custody.

By Feb. 26, 2019, Campeau had been mostly awake for nine days, high on crystal meth. 

He wasn't thinking straight. The lack of sleep and the drugs made his hands shake violently. 

He had a gun and a plan to confront Gordon for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman he thought of as his "street sister."

Late that night, Campeau and Jaremy Krause drove in a stolen vehicle to Gordon's northeast Edmonton townhouse, where Krause bought drugs.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Krause purchased methamphetamine from Gordon but, at some point in the evening, Krause told Gordon he needed to go an ATM to get some cash and left the residence. 

The two men smoked the drugs in the vehicle before Krause went back inside to say he couldn't get cash.

Campeau got a shotgun out of the trunk. He had stolen it a few days earlier, but it had been disassembled and was in extremely poor condition.

According to an agreed statement of facts, "Campeau intended to point the shotgun at Mr. Gordon and get Mr. Gordon to confess to the sexual assault."

He walked into the townhouse and pointed the gun at Gordon, who was sitting on the couch.

A witness heard a clicking sound and Campeau checked the gun. Suddenly the firearm discharged and a slug hit Gordon in the chest.

Matthew Campeau has just over six years left to serve for the manslaughter of Desmond Gordon. (Edmonton Police Service)

Campeau and Krause fled the scene in the stolen vehicle, then tried to destroy the evidence by putting a cloth rag in the gas tank and lighting the rag on fire.

Police eventually seized the vehicle and its contents, including the shotgun. RCMP did not test the weapon to see if it functioned because its condition was so poor it would have been too dangerous.

After Edmonton police issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest, Campeau turned himself in at an RCMP detachment in Langley, B.C., on March 1, 2019.

He was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter a few days into his trial last May.

Krause, Campeau's co-accused, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and was released from custody in April with credit for time already served.

"Mr. Campeau admits to causing the death of Mr. Gordon," it says in the agreed statement of facts. "At the time the Browning B-80 was discharged, Mr. Campeau had no intent to discharge it." 

'I committed one of the worst of the worst sins'

Gordon's father told court that the blast from a shotgun ended his hope that his son "would emerge from the dark side of society."

"That hope remained alive until he was not," Don Gordon wrote in a victim impact statement. "My son's life ended abruptly, prematurely and violently."

When he addressed the court, Campeau suggested that the shooting had been a turning point in his life. 

"Before I was arrested and rescued from the life I was living, I was so lost," Campeau said. "I had such terrible demons inside and I thought I could hide from them with drugs and alcohol.

"Ultimately, I realized that they simply grew stronger until I committed one of the worst of the worst sins." 

He said he doesn't expect forgiveness, but does hope to redeem himself.

"There isn't a day that goes by in which I don't regret my actions and look for redemption," Campeau said. 

His apology made an impression on the judge.

"I know this haunts Mr. Campeau, will haunt him for a long time to come," Macklin said.

"You're going to be given an opportunity to do something good," he told Campeau.

"I expect that you will do so and we will never see you again."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston is an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who has covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca.

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