Manitoba

Man convicted in foiled murder plot fears deportation

A Winnipeg man convicted of plotting to kill his business partner is urging a judge to sentence him to just under six months in jail so he can avoid deportation.

Amare Gebru argues he faces jail, torture if sent back to Ethiopia

A 17-year-old boy has been sentenced to seven years custody and community supervision for his part in the killing of Canon Beardy inside a Magnus Avenue duplex. (Ryan Cheale/CBC)

A Winnipeg man convicted of plotting to kill his business partner is urging a judge to sentence him to just under six months in jail. 

His lawyer said sentencing Amare Gebru to any more time in custody would result in him likely being deported to his native Ethiopia, where he might be subject to torture, defence lawyer Mike Cook told Justice Vic Toews at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.

Cook described Gebru as a "very good man [who did] a bad thing" and also argued Gebru's wife and children will likely lose the family home if he is sentenced to a lengthy term.

Gebru, 44, was convicted of one count each of counselling to commit robbery and counselling to commit murder following a trial last spring.  

Sentencing a 'creative art form' 

"Sentencing being a creative art form, we sometimes make exceptions to the rule," Cook said."He is an exceptional man and I ask that you give him an exceptional sentence."

Gebru opposed his local government in Ethiopia, and will likely be jailed if forced to return, Cook said.

Toews said convicted offenders have an avenue to appeal deportation orders through the Immigration and Refugee Board.  

"You don't set up a different sentencing regime for citizens and non-citizens," Toews said. "To argue five months and 29 days is an appropriate sentence ... I've got a lot of problems with that."

To argue five months and 29 days is an appropriate sentence ... I've got a lot of problems with that.- Justice Vic Toews

The Crown is recommending Gegru be sentenced to six years in prison.

Supporters from the Ethiopian community filled the large courtroom and spilled out into the hallway during Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

Gebru, a father of three, immigrated to Winnipeg in 2006 and since then has been a mentor and constant source of support for others in the Ethiopian community, Cook said. 

Gebru made a living renovating and selling houses. In 2011, he and and a family friend — the target of the murder plot — became joint owners of Teddy's Convenience Store and on Balmoral Avenue.

Tried to hire a customer to kill business partner 

Court heard at trial the relationship between Gebru and his female business partner had soured after just three months, with each partner accusing the other of stealing from the store. 

In 2011, Gebru approached a regular customer at the convenience store and asked him to rob and assault his partner when she made the night deposits at a nearby bank, claiming she had been stealing from him.

Over time, as the man continued to put Gebru off, the plan changed. Gebru wanted the woman killed, the man testified.

As an inducement, Gebru offered to help the man buy a house or give him a share in the business. 

The man told Gebru's partner he had hired him to kill her and she went to police.

Police recorded several phone conversations and face-to-face meetings between Gebru and the prospective hitman before arresting him May 31, 2012.

Toews reserved his decision. Gebru will return to court for sentencing Nov. 20.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean Pritchard

Court reporter

A reporter for over 20 years, CBC Manitoba's Dean Pritchard has covered the court beat since 1999, both in the Brandon region and Winnipeg. He can be contacted at dean.pritchard@cbc.ca.

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