Toronto

Neeko Mitchell's killer sentenced to life in prison

A man who carried out an execution-style killing at a busy community centre has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Reshane Hayles-Wilson not eligible for parole for 15 years

Reshane Hayles-Wilson, 27, was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Neeko Mitchell. (Toronto Police)

A man who carried out an execution-style killing at a busy Toronto community centre has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Reshane Hayles-Wilson, convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Neeko Mitchell, was handed his sentence Friday.

On Nov. 24, 2013, Hayles-Wilson fatally shot Mitchell at the North Kipling Community Centre, where a basketball tournament was taking place.

Surveillance footage captured Hayles-Wilson exchanging a greeting with Mitchell near the front doors. He then fired eight shots at Mitchell from point blank range, aiming at the victim's vital organs.

"There was a plan to murder Mr. Mitchell," Justice Michael Code said in his sentencing decision.

Neeko Mitchell was at the community centre to watch his brother play basketball before he was shot. (Toronto Police Service)

Hayles-Wilson, now 27, went into hiding for around 10 months after the shooting before his eventual arrest.

The Crown had been seeking a minimum of 20 years without parole while Hayles-Wilson's defence team argued for 13 to 14 years.

Code settled on 15 years, citing Hayles-Wilson's relatively young age, lack of prior criminal record and evidence of pro-social behaviour in his history. However, he also noted that the busy location of the shooting and its deliberate nature factored into his sentencing decision.

Victim's family disappointed

Mitchell's family, who sobbed when Code repeated portions of their victim impact statements, thanked the Crown but said they were disappointed in the sentence.

"We're not in agreement with it," said Mitchell's father Patrick Griscombe outside the courtroom. He and his family had been hoping for a 20 year sentence for Mitchell's killer.

Mitchell, who was 25-years-old at the time of his death, had two young daughters.

At the conclusion of his sentencing decision, Code directly addressed Hayles-Wilson, expressing doubt that he should be granted parole after 15 years.

Judge has blunt words for convicted killer

Code said Hayles-Wilson has not yet appeared to take responsibility for his actions on the night of the shooting.

"I'm not convinced of your rehabilitative potential," Code said bluntly. "You've got to come to terms with this offence."

Mitchell's family said they will attend Hayles-Wilson's first parole hearing when it arrives, likely to argue for a denial of parole.

Griscombe noted that his granddaughters will be young adults by the time of the hearing.

Before court was adjourned, Code thanked both Mitchell and Hayes-Wilson's families for their cooperation during the trial.

"Mr Hayles-Wilson's family has lost their son to a life sentence," he said. "Mr. Mitchell's family has lost their son to a death sentence."