Court told details of the troubled lives of victim, defendant
Charles Sinobert will spend the next 25 years of his life in prison, after being found guilty of stabbing and killing girlfriend Wanda Taylor a year and a half ago.
As part of the 52-year-old's sentencing for the second-degree murder charge, Sinobert won't be eligible for parole for 17 years, he is under a lifetime firearms prohibition and was required to supply a DNA sample to a national registry.
An additional charge of possession of a dangerous weapon, stemming from the same incident, was stayed during the sentencing.
On Oct. 14, 2010, around 12:30 a.m., police and ambulance personnel responded to a 911 call at an Ontario Street home where they found Taylor suffering from multiple stab wounds all over her body.
Sinobert was found unconscious beside Taylor, in what was described as an alcohol-induced coma. Both were taken to hospital, where Taylor died of her injuries.
Sinobert was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury April 13.
About a dozen of Taylor's family and friends sat quietly in the courtroom, listening as assistant Crown attorney Kara Vakiparta read through four victim impact statements during Sinobert's sentencing hearing, held June 28 at the Sudbury Courthouse.
Taylor was one of 10 children. Growing up in Hornepayne, they were the only Aboriginal family in the community without electricity, according to Taylor's sister Marlene.
"Our parents were always drunk ... we went to the dump for food and clothes," she wrote.
The two youngest siblings died in a fire caused by a candle in the home, which made the parents drink even more. The alcohol abuse was passed on to the Taylor children.
"Wanda couldn't stop drinking," Marlene said. "She loved her children, but she couldn't even stop drinking for them. She said she was only happy when she was drunk."
Taylor's eight children were eventually taken away from her and put in foster care.
"Wanda had a hard life from the beginning to end," her brother, Jerome, wrote in his statement. "She was badly mistreated in the foster care system ... and was always abused by people."
The youngest Taylor sister, Juanita, said she wants to remember her sister "as a happy person who loved to laugh."
"I find myself drinking more to forget the pain that she's gone and not coming back."
Taylor's best friend, Agnes Redbreast, was in the room during the stabbing and tried to intervene. As a result of that night, Redbreast said in her statement that she can't sleep, is taking medication for anxiety, can't trust people and "can no longer have friends in my life. I feel lonely and depressed."
"I want to drink more to forget," she wrote. "I'll have guilt for the rest of my life."
In her submission to the court, assistant Crown attorney Susan Bruce said it was important to ensure the sentence was severe enough that it would denounce the act of deliberately taking a life, deter others from committing the same offence and offer protection to the public.
While she said Sinobert's Aboriginal background should be considered, it should be given less weight then the other principles in deciding the sentence.
"Wanda was an Aboriginal woman and she suffered many of the disadvantages Mr. Sinobert suffered," she said.
"Many Aboriginal offenders have suffered historical forces beyond their control, but we must not render the victim invisible. There is a personal responsibility, and Mr. Sinobert is a person with blood on his hands."
In addition, there were a number of aggravating factors in Sinobert's case, including a criminal record that stretches more than three decades, the crown stated.
"Mr. Sinobert has a very violent past," Vakiparta said. "He has a prior manslaughter conviction, he has three prior aggravated assault convictions for stabbing people and now he's been convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing Wanda Taylor to death. In this case, we really wanted to protect society and other people from him."
Defence attorney Michael Haraschuk recounted Sinobert's troubled past to the court as well.
Sinobert, who has three sons, is the eldest in a family of five children — his only brother was placed in foster care at a young age.
"He had an unstable childhood, his father was in and out of jail," the lawyer said. "His parents abused alcohol and went on binges for four to five days."
His parents eventually separated and Sinobert was put in foster care with one of his sisters, and separated from the other two. He was the victim of racism at school and eventually dropped out.
Sinobert's battle with alcohol began at 11 or 12 years of age.
In a case of second-degree murder, a life sentence is automatic; however, the period of ineligibility for parole is flexible, based on varying factors.
Haraschuk, who asked for eligibility after 12 years, said the objective of his client's sentence should be "restorative justice."
"He's been incarcerated most of his life," he said. "Incarceration has failed to rehabilitate Mr. Sinobert."
He described Sinobert as a "model inmate," who completed high school while in prison. He also attempted to sign himself up for a residential treatment program, prior to his last crime.
However, upon his release each time, Sinobert has reoffended, Haraschuk said.
"He's just thrown back onto the street. He experienced a systemic disadvantage his entire life. Restorative justice is as equally important in this case as denunciation and deterrence."
He suggested Sinobert's sentence include a federal healing lodge, where he can undergo intensive long-term treatment while incarcerated.
Sinobert sat quietly throughout the proceedings, and declined to comment prior to Superior Court Justice Paul Rivard deciding on the sentence.
"Because of Mr. Sinobert's circumstances as an Aboriginal offender, the court is mandated to adopt a restorative approach to sentencing," Rivard said. However, "in spite of a number of restorative programs while in custody, Mr. Sinobert has persisted in criminal activity.
"The protection of the community is very important," he continued.
After delivering the sentence, Rivard told Sinobert if he meets the requirements, he will be considered for entry into the healing lodge rehabilitation program.
Posted by Arron Pickard