Toronto

No jail time for teen who murdered Const. Garrett Styles

The teenager convicted of killing Const. Garrett Styles has been sentenced to no jail time, but given nine years of "conditional supervision," in a ruling handed down at a Toronto-area courthouse.

Officer's wife says family serving its own 'life sentence' without husband, father

Const. Garrett Styles, left, was killed in the early hours of June 28, 2011, after pulling over a minivan full of teenagers. (York Regional Police)

The teenager convicted of killing Const. Garrett Styles was sentenced to no jail time, but was given nine years of "conditional supervision," in a ruling handed down at a Toronto-area courthouse today.

The 19-year-old, who was only 15 and considered a young offender at the time of the incident, was found guilty of first-degree murder in June. He has been referred to as S.K. throughout the proceedings.

Styles, who worked for the York Regional Police force, died in the early morning hours of June 28, 2011, after pulling over a minivan full of teenagers that S.K. was driving. Styles was then dragged and crushed when S.K. fled the roadside stop and the van rolled over.

"Imposing a custodial sentence will not make S.K. more accountable," Justice Alex Sosna told a packed Newmarket, Ont., courtroom on Monday.

S.K., he said, is "already serving a life sentence, imprisoned in his wheelchair."

Sosna, who spent more than an hour delivering his sentence, also cited evidence that S.K.'s life expectancy had been shortened by 25 years because of his injuries.  

As part of his sentence, S.K. will also be required to make public speaking appearances three times a year for the next four years to talk about his injuries and why they occurred.

S.K. opted to stay silent before hearing the sentence.

Sentence 'a huge letdown' for family

York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe and the Styles family left the court shortly after the decision without speaking with reporters.

But the officer's wife, Melissa, and his parents later said they were disappointed to learn S.K. would not be serving prison time.

"My children and I have been given a life sentence to have to live without Garrett," his wife said in a statement released by York police Monday. "This sentence is a huge letdown."

The chief of police echoed the Styles family in their disappointment.

"Notwithstanding the physical condition of the accused, this sentence does not reflect the principles of accountability referenced in the Youth Criminal Justice Act," Jolliffe said in the statement.

Sosna acknowledged the "horrific and painful impact" Styles' death had on his family and friends, acknowledging the officer's widow and two young children in particular. He also noted the "profound" effect the officer's death had on the community he served.

Styles was just 32 at the time of his death.

The judge found, however, that S.K. had not engaged in a malevolent act.

"I find fleeing the traffic stop was an impulsive and irrational act, but not an act of viciousness," he said.

Sosna also noted that the teen has said he never intended to take Styles' life and was "very sad" about what had happened.

The Crown had sought an "open custody" youth sentence and recommended a facility in Milton, Ont., which is wheelchair accessible.

Sosna said he wasn't convinced that the facility, which officials had vowed to retrofit to meet S.K.'s needs, would have worked, saying it seemed "too good to be true."  

Sosna, in closing, called the case "an unfolding tragedy with life-changing circumstances for all involved."

With files from The Canadian Press