Two youths found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo have been given life sentences.
The youths, who were convicted – following a trial – on May 18, 2021, were sentenced as adults by Judge Robert Hamilton, Nov. 4 in Surrey Provincial Court.
Eligibility for parole for the youths, who were 15 and 16 at the time of the 2019 crime, has been set at seven years, in keeping with provisions of the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Their names cannot be published, under a section of the act, which remains in effect until the end of the appeal period.
The 45-year-old First Nations man, well known and liked in the White Rock-South Surrey community, died in a parking lot at 18 Avenue and 152 Street just before 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2019.
Evidence during the trial of the youths revealed that Prestbakmo had been stabbed 42 times over the course of 26 seconds, shortly after he had stepped out of his residence to take out some garbage and have a cigarette.
The convicted youths had been uninvited guests to a nearby house party, and their apparently chance encounter with Prestbakmo in the parking lot happened during a second period in which they had roamed the streets during the early hours of that morning.
In his 2021 verdict, Hamilton said the large number of wounds inflicted on Prestbakmo during the altercation, along with other factors – including the fact that the teens had left the house party armed with knives – showed they had set out with “a lethal intent to kill.”
At sentencing hearings held in June, Hamilton heard from friends and relatives, including Prestbakmo’s father, his sisters, Angela and Elizabeth, and brother Steve, that he had been a charming and outgoing man who was swift to protect the more vulnerable in the community.
In its submissions to the hearings, the Crown had argued that the two youths be sentenced as adults, which was supported by Prestbakmo’s family.
Sentencing as an adult is possible, at a judge’s discretion, for youths older than 14 convicted of serious crimes.
If they had been sentenced as juveniles under the YCJ Act, the maximum the pair could have received for second-degree murder would have been seven years (four of those in custody; the balance in the community, with conditions and supervision).