Michelle Proulx (girlfriend of Sam McGowan

Michelle Proulx (girlfriend of Sam McGowan

Teen who fatally stabbed Surrey man apologizes in court

Family of victim Sam McGowan says killer's words are meaningless; youth's sentencing scheduled for January.

The teen convicted of stabbing a Surrey man to death in 2009 gave a prepared statement in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster Tuesday, saying he’s disgusted with his behaviour and the tragic results.

But the family and friends of victim Sam McGowan, the man the teen stabbed to death on a Surrey street two years ago, don’t buy it.

Wearing a collared white shirt, black pants and a blue tie, the youth faced Justice Laura Gerow and read from a piece of paper. Standing up straight, his brown hair cut short, the teen – who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act – told the court that what happened on Aug. 5, 2009 “was very terrible and tragic.”

“I am disgusted with the way I behaved…it’s something I’m going to regret for the rest of my life,” he said, his back to the public gallery.

“Above all, the life of a man who was loved and cared for was lost. My actions…caused his death. I am responsible.”

The teen, who was 14 at the time of the killing, is now 17.

On that summer night in 2009, he and a friend committed two robberies, stealing cellphones from another pair of teens, on of whom was Sam McGowan’s son.

McGowan, 42, chased the youth and found him under a porch. The teen, whose defence lawyers said he feared for his life because others were also chasing him, plunged a knife into McGowan’s chest, killing him.

The killer was initially charged with second-degree murder but in June, a jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. During trial, he also pleaded guilty to two robbery charges.

The teen told the court his life has changed since the night McGowan was killed.

“I was forced to change and became a different person,” he said. “I can’t say sorry enough to the family. I acknowledge and accept full responsibility and I apologize.”

Earlier, defence lawyer David Tarnow argued for a lenient sentence for the teen, pointing to the fact he has abided by all of the conditions set at bail, including maintaining employment, studying high school courses and engaging in positive extracurricular activities. Tarnow said the youth should also get credit for time already served.

“He is remorseful…it is clear Crown is grasping at straws (by asking for a three-year sentence, the maximum for manslaughter under the YCJA),” Tarnow said. “His rehabilitation is ongoing. He is well on his way to rehabilitating himself, with the help of many in the community.”

Tarnow said the youth had worked at McDonald’s and framing houses and has received nothing but positive reports from his employers. The defence lawyer asked the judge to consider his maturity level at the time of the stabbing compared to now.

“He has shown he can be a responsible person in the community,” Tarnow said. “To incarcerate this young man at this stage is counterproductive to him and not helpful at all.”

Tarnow asked Justice Gerow to impose an Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision order as a sentence, with only one day in custody.

On Monday, Crown prosecutor Jodie Harris argued in favour of the maximum three-year sentence, with an 18-month jail term followed by 18 months of community supervision, with six to 12 months served concurrently for the robberies.

Gerow put the matter over for sentencing on Jan. 27.

Michelle Proulx, McGowan’s girlfriend, walked out while the teen read his statement, but returned to court to hear when sentencing will happen.

“I’m pissed,” she said outside, her emotions starting to show. “Nothing he says will change anything. We’ve waited and waited and now we have to wait some more. He’s probably going to walk.”

Proulx’s daughters, Madison, 10, and Miqueilla, 14, said McGowan was a hero, not a vigilante.

“Sam had the biggest heart. He just wanted to stop him (from stealing the cellphone). He’s a hero, not a vigilante,” Madison said. “(The killer’s) apology means nothing to me. He killed Sam. You don’t go walking around with a knife.”

Miqueilla agreed.

“Someone that great is gone. Sam was the best. The best!” she said. “If (the killer) gets three years – if that – our family has to live without Sam for the rest of our lives.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the provincial government to implement a temporary paid sick-leave program. (Unsplash.com photo by Kelly Sikkema)
Surrey Board of Trade calls for temporary paid sick-leave program

Reccomendations sent to provincial labour minister, news release notes

Low tide offered plenty of space for people to relax on White Rock's beach Sunday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
City of White Rock asking outside visitors to stay away

South Surrey residents encouraged to visit, while others urged to stick close to home

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex earns B.C. facility excellence award

Award is among four presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Suspect accused of ‘abhorrent’ assaults at Surrey SkyTrain stations

Transit Police say assaults were on April 9, 14 and 17

Closing down the west-bound lane of Marine Drive to allow increased patio space for restaurants and a larger walkway for pedestrians would be a challenging and costly measure, according to a city staff report. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock City council, BIA to further mull Marine Drive one-way

Businesses contend that challenges of measure can be mitigated

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Most Read