CALGARY — A judge who sentenced a teen to 21 months for shooting a German tourist in the head on a highway west of Calgary has heard that the victim continues to suffer.
Horst Stewin was driving with his family in a black SUV on Stoney Nakoda First Nation land on Aug. 2, 2018. Court was told the visitors were in the area because Stewin rides horses and was a fan of the western lifestyle.
A bullet shot from another vehicle then struck Stewin in the head. His SUV veered off the road and crashed into some trees.
Stewin survived and was transported back to Germany, where doctors removed eight bullet fragments from his brain. Court was told that he is paralyzed on his right side, gets confused and has memory issues.
A letter from his son, Daniel Stewin, was read at a sentencing hearing Thursday for the shooter, who was earlier convicted of aggravated assault and recklessly discharging a firearm.
Daniel Stewin said his father, now 63, lost his job and can no longer work.
“The insurance only paid until May of this year. He may lose his house and needs to live on the money he saved over the years,” he wrote.
“He cannot remember the names of things. We are not able to understand a lot of the things he is saying.
“Because of this he is very aggressive and violent toward his family. He’s starting to realize what happened. He has serious suicidal ideation.”
Court heard the shooting was likely a case of mistaken identity.
The driver of the other car testified during the trial that he and his three passengers had been drinking vodka and smoking meth that day. He said he thought the black SUV belonged to a man who had beaten up his younger brother.
Provincial court Judge George Gaschler accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence on a sentence of 14 months custody and seven months house arrest.
The shooter, who is now 18 but cannot be named, appeared in court via CCTV. Because he has been in custody for the last 15 months, his incarceration is over.
He was ordered to live with his father and obtain counselling as required.
“A serious life-threatening and permanent injury was caused to Mr. Stewin,” Gaschler told the court.
“A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree or responsibility for the offender. And the particular background and circumstances of the offenders, especially Indigenous offenders, must be taken into account.”
Prosecutor Dane Rolfe said he agreed to the sentence because the shooter was 16 at the time and had no criminal record.
But he said the crime was serious.
“The injuries, the brain damage to the victim and the long-term effects of the injuries … (Stewin) is probably going to need support for the rest of his life now,” said Rolfe, who spoke to the judge by phone.
The shooter’s lawyer, Balfour Der, said his client’s upbringing was a rough one.
“Our client’s history is replete with parental neglect, parental physical and emotional abuse. The family life was devoid of meaningful or consistent structure and a prolonged substance abuse problem.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2020
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press