Skip to content

'This is killing us': court delays devastate family of teen fatally shot in Burnaby

More than a year after Trevor Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Alpha Secondary School grad Anichka Loeffler, her family is still waiting for him to be sentenced.
Anichka (Ani) Loeffler

Three times since 18-year-old Alpha Secondary School grad Anichka (Ani) Loeffler was fatally shot at her boyfriend's Burnaby home nearly four years ago, her family has prepared to re-live the worst day of their lives in court and confront the man responsible for her death.

And three times the family has been forced to push their grief back down and wait because of last-minute adjournments.

Trevor Brown, 21, was scheduled to be sentenced in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday morning after pleading guilty to four charges (manslaughter, unauthorized possession of a firearm, pointing a firearm and careless storage of a firearm) related to Loeffler's death on Nov. 29, 2020.

Nearly two dozen people packed the courtroom, including Loeffler's mother, father and two sisters only to be told the case was not going ahead because two court reports (a Gladue report and a risk assessment) sought by the defence were not ready, even though it has been more than a year since Brown entered his guilty pleas.  

Crown prosecutor Phillip Sebelin told the court he didn't get word until Tuesday that the reports wouldn't be ready – and he didn't find out until Wednesday morning that defence lawyer Dale Melville wouldn't be in court and neither would his client.

Even without the reports, Sebelin said he had expected to proceed with the Crown's part of the case, including the victim impact statements, because he thought Melville and Brown would be there.

"That's why I didn't notify family or anyone else that there'd be an adjournment today," Sebelin said.

Lawyer Jerry Steele who appeared on Melville's behalf said Melville was double-booked and was in court in New Westminster.

"It's the ultimate disrespect," Loeffler's mother, Tanja, told the NOW outside the courtroom.

Loeffler's sisters, Karina and Nadine, broke down in tears.

This is the second time the family has braced themselves to present victim impact statements, trying to find words for the emotional devastation wrought by Loeffler’s death.

Little has been made public about the incident because of a publication ban on information presented at Brown's bail hearing.

He was first scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 1, but Melville appeared in court less than a week before to ask for an adjournment because the reports weren't ready.

And before that, the family had prepared themselves for a two-week trial starting on June 5, 2023, but that was called off nine days before because of Brown's guilty pleas on May 24.

"This is killing us," Karina Loeffler said to the NOW. "It's not fair to drag the victims through this."

B.C. provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout said he was "very unhappy" with the latest adjournment and especially with the fact Melville and Brown didn't show up.

"I've got a courtroom full of people," he said.

"I'm not happy about what has happened. I'm not going to say anything further than that because it is the Law Society of British Columbia that governs the behaviour of lawyers."

Rideout said he would take charge of the case himself in an effort to move it along.

He set the next court date for June 18, when he expects to hear when the reports will be complete, and said he would schedule a new two-day sentencing hearing as soon as possible after that.

Rideout also made an order for Brown to appear in person at all future court dates.

At the end of the hearing, Rideout addressed the gallery.

"I will make sure I keep a firm handle on this particular case on a go-forward basis," he said. "We are going to get this case done; I will make sure of that."

Melville has not responded to a phone call from the NOW.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on X/Twitter @CorNaylor
Email [email protected]