Heavily armed officers descend on a reputed drug house on King George Boulevard in 2013

Ten-year sentence sought for South Surrey killing

Family of South Surrey shooting victim Corey Bennett hears his killer 'doesn't dare ask forgiveness.'

Two years after the death of South Surrey’s Corey Bennett, the man responsible described the act as something he still can’t make sense of, and can never fix.

“I fully am disgusted in myself,” Donald James Chad Jr. told Judge James Jardine during his sentencing hearing Tuesday in Surrey Provincial Court. “I took someone’s dad, someone’s brother. Parents had to bury their son because of me. There is no fixing what I did.”

Chad, 32, was one of two men arrested in connection with the Nov. 9, 2013 shooting death of 44-year-old Bennett at a home in the 2600-block of King George Boulevard.

Initially facing trial for murder, Chad pleaded guilty in August to manslaughter.

Tuesday, defense counsel Kelly Merrigan argued Chad’s guilty plea should be a mitigating factor in determining sentence, noting a trial would have been harder on Bennett’s family – and would likely not have ended in a conviction.

“The witnesses are, themselves, deeply troubled people,” Merrigan said, referring to testimony heard during a preliminary inquiry.

“There was rich fodder for the defence to hopefully plant the seed of doubt at a jury trial… and yet my client has not availed himself to the opportunity of a trial.”

Corey BennettAccording to Merrigan, Bennett was not targeted to die, and the extent of his client’s role in planning the crime remains unclear.

In an agreed statement of facts, the court heard that Bennett was living with his common-law spouse at the time, and that the house was a focal point for illicit drugs.

Prosecutor Suzanne Elliott said Chad had made two visits to the home for such transactions prior to the night Bennett died. On the second, he had been ejected “at the request of Mr. Bennett.”

On the night Bennett was killed, Chad returned at around 11 p.m. with two men and a loaded semi-automatic rifle. Bennett was asleep downstairs, and Chad pushed past a woman who had come to buy drugs. He jumped on the bed, shouting and “poking Bennett with the rifle.”

The gun went off during a struggle, Elliott said.

Chad – who was under court order to not possess firearms – was arrested Nov. 22 and had large amounts of Canadian and Chinese currency and a prohibited .45-calibre Webley revolver, the court heard.

Elliott noted that at that time, Chad already had “a lengthy and significant related record.”

The lawyers agreed a 10-year sentence would be fitting.

In reserving his decision, scheduled for Nov. 27, the judge said he needed time to weigh the submissions, which included details of Chad’s “chaotic childhood” with drug- and alcohol-addicted parents, and victim-impact statements from four of Bennett’s family members.

Carl Bennett, a South Surrey resident, said in a written statement that his son’s death “haunts me.”

Sentencing hearingBennett’s sister, Jamie England, told the court she lives with the repercussions of her brother’s death every day; fearing for his children and grandchildren and wondering “if he knew how much I loved him.”

His uncle, Wayne Bennett, described his optimism that his nephew would turn his life around.

“I have always believed that no matter how broken a life becomes, there is always a hope for rehabilitation,” he said. “Unfortunately for Corey, that hope has been tragically snatched away.”

Merrigan said that while the crime cannot be understated, there is hope for his client, whose struggles are rooted in drug addiction.

“Given a different start in life, I think he would’ve done very well,” Merrigan said, noting Chad has been working to advance his education in custody and remains hopeful he will be out of jail in time for his son’s graduation.

In addressing the court, an emotional Chad said he wished he could undo what happened, but “I don’t dare ask forgiveness.”

“I know I’m incapable of providing his family with closure, however, I don’t want my silence to prevent them from attaining any at all.”

Outside court, Chad’s mother expressed regret for her son’s childhood, and hope for his future.

“I was addicted to pills and I wasn’t always there for him,” Yvonne Kelly said. “Sorry I didn’t do a good enough job to raise him.

“He’s not a hopeless case, and he’s not a violent person.”

– with files from Alex Browne

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey RCMP supporters make noise during rally outside city hall

‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’ leader Ivan Scott says municipal force ‘not a done deal’

International South Asian expo pitched for Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

Mayor Doug McCallum says the idea ‘shows a lot of promise’

White Rock council declares disapproval of ride-hailing rules

City to submit resolution to UBCM, send letter to B.C. Passenger Transportation Board

Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

Mander Sohal, fired from Delta’s Acorn Mill, alleges discrimination based on religion and disability

Developer offers free Tesla 3 with purchase of South Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Most Read

l -->