Manitoba

Man who killed Winnipeg Transit driver must spend at least 12 years in prison

Brian Kyle Thomas, found guilty in January of second-degree murder in the death of Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, was sentenced in Manitoba's Court of Queen’s Bench Wednesday.

Brian Kyle Thomas's 2nd-degree murder conviction for stabbing of Irvine Jubal Fraser carries life sentence

This still image from security camera video shows Brian Kyle Thomas getting on Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser's bus on Feb. 14, 2017. (Court exhibit)

The man who stabbed a Winnipeg Transit driver to death in 2017 will have to spend 12 years in prison before he may apply for parole, Chief Justice Glenn Joyal announced in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench Wednesday.

A jury found Brian Kyle Thomas guilty in January of second-degree murder in the death of Irvine Jubal Fraser, after a trial that lasted almost two weeks.

Joyal called crime "brutal" and said it had a far-reaching impact on the community.

"The offender acted impulsively and explosively," he said.

When asked by Joyal if he had anything he wanted to say before his sentence was delivered, Thomas replied: "No, no."

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with parole eligibility set at a minimum of 10 years.

At a sentencing hearing in June, both the Crown and defence asked Joyal to set Thomas's parole eligibility at 12 years, although they did not make a joint sentencing recommendation. 

Some members of Fraser's family who were in the courtroom Wednesday reacted in anger after Joyal delivered Thomas's sentence, yelling at Thomas and saying that Fraser was simply doing his job when he was killed.

Thomas, 22, and Fraser, 58, got into a fight in the early morning of Feb. 14, 2017, after Thomas refused to get off Fraser's bus when it reached its last stop at the University of Manitoba.

Fraser died from multiple stab wounds.

Irvine Jubal Fraser and Brian Kyle Thomas got into a fight after Thomas refused to get off the bus at the end of the route. (Court exhibit)

His death shocked the city and raised concerns about the safety of Winnipeg Transit drivers.

During the sentencing hearing, several members of Fraser's family, including his son and brothers, read out victim impact statements. 

"He never deserved what happened to him," said Tyler Fraser, one of the victim's brothers. "He deserved to go home to his family."

Theodore Mariash, Thomas's defence attorney at his sentencing hearing, said Thomas had a dysfunctional childhood growing up on Shamattawa First Nation in northern Manitoba. 

After his conviction, Thomas's trial defence lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, asked for a Gladue report, which provides a court with information about an Indigenous offender's personal background to be considered in sentencing.

According to the report, Thomas's family has an extensive history with the justice system. Both of his parents have been convicted of manslaughter, and his brother has spent a significant amount of time in the prison system.

Thomas, who is now 24, grew up in an abusive home, the report says, where alcohol and solvent abuse were present. He became a permanent ward of Child and Family Services at the age of six.

At a young age, Thomas began sniffing solvents, and was admitted to a youth crisis stabilization unit in 2009.

The report also found that Thomas has a low IQ, in the range of 47. 

A jury found Brian Kyle Thomas guilty in January of second-degree murder in the death of Irvine Jubal Fraser, after a trial that lasted almost two weeks. 1:47

With files from Jillian Taylor