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Parole denied for Lacombe man serving time for manslaughter of Ponoka victim

Campbell says he ‘can’t take back’ what he did
Britanney Povey, Jeffery Kraft’s cousin, was among many friends and family who turned up outside the Red Deer courthouse on March 4, 2021 to call for a long sentence for Tyler John Campbell, who killed Kraft in December, 2019. (Paul Cowley/Advocate staff/File photo)

Parole has been denied for the man convicted in the death of Jeffrey Kraft of Ponoka over an alleged debt in December, 2019, in Lacombe County.

Tyler John Campbell had a parole hearing at the Bowden Institute on Jan. 10, 2024.

Ponoka News obtained a copy of the Parole Board of Canada’s decision.

According to the decision, two victims present described their pain and the emotional impact the loss had on them and their family.

Campbell said he understood the damage and hurt he caused to the victim’s family.

He is quoted as saying he is now trying to be a better person, but he “can’t take back” what he’d done.

He said he was ready for day parole, as he’d made “significant gains,” having completed programming, but understood he needed a slow reintegration, so had not expected full parole.

Campbell, 31, is currently serving a federal sentence of five years and six months.

He was found guilty of manslaughter using a firearm, failure to comply with conditions of an undertaking/recognizance and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

He was also given a court-imposed DNA order and lifetime weapons prohibition at sentencing.

According to court documents, on Dec. 15, 2019, Campbell, in an attempt to recover a debt, hid in a vehicle’s trunk with a shotgun while his accomplice met with Kraft and another person to consume cannabis.

Stopping on a rural road in Lacombe County, accomplice opened the trunk saying she was getting a bong, and let Campbell out, who then confronted Kraft and the other person in the car, asking “Who’s Jeff?” and then demanding money.

Kraft agreed to pay, but the shotgun discharged, striking Kraft in the chest from point blank range.

All those present took Kraft to the hospital. While his friend ran inside, Campbell and the female left Kraft lying in the parking lot and fled. Kraft passed away soon after. He was 20 years old.

Campbell had sold stolen property to Kraft a few months prior. Campbell told the board he wanted to collect the money and return to his home province to “get clean.”

Campbell claimed he didn’t know the firearm was loaded or that the safety was off.

He told the parole board he made a “poor decision” by taking the shotgun and only wanted to scare the victim. He said he was at a low point in his life.

According to the information in the decision, the accomplice, (whose charges were withdrawn) was his common law spouse, who was pregnant with their child.

He’d been unemployed for awhile and was living with his parents. He was on probation at the time.

In a review of his social history, the decision stated he began using drugs in his teen years.

He moved to Alberta and was working in 2017, but lost his job in 2018. It was then that his drug use escalated.

Campbell told the board he was using three to five grams of meth daily and hadn’t slept in several days at the time of the offence.

In the month prior to the offence, Campbell has been involved in three fraudulent vehicle purchases. He had three prior convictions in 2019: failure to comply with a recognizance, failure to attend court and possession of a scheduled substance.

The decision states when he was released on recognizance in 2019, his performance was considered “poor,” with new breaches and new offending, including the manslaughter charge.

After the current offence, he was released on bail with house arrest. He had no known breaches, and attended addiction counselling, however, stopped going after a few sessions.

The board concluded this demonstrated “overconfidence” in his sobriety.

Campbell had two family visits with his common law spouse during his incarceration, but the board heard she has since broken off the relationship and moved to a different country with their child, to live with her parents.

The board denied both day parole and full parole.

While the decision notes reports indicate Campbell has “demonstrated insight into his crime,” his parole officer said the completion of the courses was too recent for his skills to have been tested.

The board stated his offence was the largest negative in his case.

“You made a decision to bring a firearm to collect a debt, while in a cycle of using drugs. As a result the victim was killed and his family are left to mourn and forever be impacted by your choices.”

The board noted the completion of his program and other “positive gains,” but agreed he hadn’t had time to use those skills. They also stated it was concerning he left addiction counselling before he was in custody and never became involved with AA while incarcerated.

The decision noted Campbell would likely be transferred to minimum security soon.

READ MORE: Family of Ponoka man grappling with loss, anger after manslaughter sentence reduced on appeal

Originally sentenced to 11 years, Campbell won an appeal on Dec. 13, 2022, and his sentence was reduced to seven years (minus time served in pre-trial custody).

Campbell had pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2020. According to court documents, the plea was made based on an agreement with the Crown that a joint submission of seven years for the manslaughter charge would be made.

However, the trial judge felt the submission was too lenient and rejected it several times before sentencing was passed.

The preliminary hearing went ahead for the co-accused on Nov. 16, 2020. Charged with second-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and conspiring to commit an offence, she was discharged by the Crown.

The reason cited was insufficient evidence to commit her to trial.

Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, offenders are eligible for full parole after serving one-third of their sentence, or seven years — whichever is less.

According to the Parole Board of Canada, the board denies full parole for about 70 per cent of offenders at their first parole review date.

Offenders may apply for parole one year after parole has been denied.

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
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