Manitoba

Killer teen's breaches not reported

Startling facts about the state of Winnipeg's youth auto-theft subculture were revealed Tuesday at a sentencing hearing for a teen boy who was behind the wheel of a stolen, speeding SUV that killed a city cab driver.

Probation officers didn't notify police

Startling facts about the state of Winnipeg's youth auto-theft subculture were revealed Tuesday at a sentencing hearing for a teen boy who was behind the wheel of a stolen, speeding SUV that killed a city cab driver.

The youth, now 17, was 14 when he was charged with manslaughter in connection to the death of Antonio Lanzellotti on March 29, 2008.

Lanzellotti, 55, died instantly when a stolen Chevy Avalanche SUV, speeding through a red light at Portage Avenue and Maryland Street in Winnipeg, slammed into his taxi.

Court documents obtained by CBC News show the cabbie's injuries included a large skull fracture, lacerations to his brain and multiple fractures to his ribs, legs and chest.

Manitoba Justice is seeking an adult sentence for the boy, who recently pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminal negligence causing death. His own lawyer is arguing that an adult sentence is too harsh.

If Justice Lea Duval agrees the boy should be treated as an adult, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and will lose protections under the Youth Criminal Justice Act that prevent the publication of his name. There is no mandatory minimum sentence.

Police not told of probation breaches

Crown attorney Brent Davidson called a long-time probation officer for Manitoba Justice to testify about the boy and a pre-sentencing report concerning his background and personal circumstances prepared in advance of Tuesday's hearing.

Cheryl Dyck, who has worked with youth probation services in Manitoba for 14 years admitted that the teen continually violated probation orders stemming from prior sentences, and that he was upgraded to being a high risk to reoffend in the months before the crash.

However, Dyck said probation services never reported his violations to police, allowing the boy to stay free in the community.

She testified that the policy of her office at the time was that a pattern of breaching court orders needs to be established prior to reporting the infractions to police.

"Once a pattern of non-compliance is established then we breach the client," Dyck said. 

The boy, who has been behind bars since he was arrested days after the deadly crash, is a brother of a high-ranking member of the violent Mad Cowz street gang.

Youths commit 80 per cent of auto thefts

Crown attorney Brent Davidson also called a Winnipeg police officer to testify about the state of auto theft in Winnipeg around the time of Lanzellotti was killed.

Arrests by the auto theft unit

2006: 176 in total, 144 were youths, 32 were adults.

2007: 258 in total, 215 were youths, 43 were adults.

2008 (to March 29): 85 in total, 58 were youths, 27 were adults.

Detective Sgt. Kevin Kavitch of the stolen auto unit revealed some startling data about what's been a chronic problem in Winnipeg for years: teenagers who steal cars and drive them recklessly, endangering the public and often goading police into dangerous high-speed chases.

Kavitch testified that from Jan. 1, 2006 to the day Lanzellotti died, officers in his unit alone made 519 arrests of suspects in connection to stolen vehicle crimes.

Of those, 417 suspects were under age 18 — a full 80 per cent, Kavitch testified. He also admitted that for the years of 2006 and 2007, Winnipeg rightly earned its reputation as Canada's "auto-theft capital."

With file from Sean Kavanagh