NEWMARKET, Ont. — The prosecution served notice on Thursday that it wants a teenager accused in the death of a police officer crushed by a minivan to be sentenced as an adult if he’s eventually convicted.
The Crown’s position was put to the court during a telephone call to the injured boy’s hospital bed, where a first-degree murder charge had been previously read to him.
Ontario court Justice Ronald Minard asked Toronto lawyer David Berg, who was with the 15-year-old, in the hospital, whether the accused could hear the proceedings.
“He can hear, but he cannot speak,” Berg responded.
A key difference in adult sentencing would be the longer time to be served before being eligible for parole.
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a first-degree conviction carries a maximum 10-year sentence — generally six years in custody and the remainder in the community under supervision.
If sentenced as an adult, the maximum sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act would be life without parole for 10 years.
The youth is accused in the June 28 death of York region police Const. Garrett Styles, a married father of an infant and toddler whose funeral attracted thousands of officers on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Styles died after he was pinned under a minivan police allege the accused was driving on a highway east of Newmarket, Ont., about 45 minutes north of Toronto.
Police said Styles was investigating the driver when the vehicle took off, dragging the officer about 300 metres, then rolling over and pinning him beneath it.
The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, was seriously hurt in the incident while three other teens in the minivan were not injured, police said.
The Crown’s sentencing notice comes at an early stage in the proceedings. The teen has yet to enter a plea and any trial is months away.
“The charges have been read,” prosecutor Peter Westgate told the Ontario court before adding the Crown “would be seeking an adult sentence.”
Berg told court he had not yet been formally retained but anticipated that would happen.
Westgate then requested the case be put over to Sept. 15 — for another remand by audio conference.
“That’s a wise precaution,” Berg said.
In an interview, Berg declined to discuss the case, but said he was drafting a media statement. Westgate refused to discuss the case any further.
Also Thursday, York police issued a statement thanking those who tried in vain to save Styles, those who helped organize his funeral, and those who offered their support and condolences.
“It is truly heartwarming to see the entire community come together to offer assistance and support,” the service said.