Man released from jail early in ‘cowardly’ killing of Burnaby teen

A 22-year-old man convicted of manslaughter in the swarming death of Burnaby teen Luka Gordic during a grad weekend in Whistler five years ago has been released from custody six months early.

The man - who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time of the killing - was found guilty of manslaughter and handed a three-year custody and supervision order, with 18 months to be served in custody and 18 months under conditional supervision.

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At a hearing last month to review his custody, the man applied for early release after spending a year at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge, according to a ruling on the matter by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes Monday.

Crown prosecutor Hank Reiner argued the convicted man should serve the full 18 months, pointing to the seriousness of the offence, which Schultes has described as “a cowardly venture, in which (the man) and his companions planned to swarm Mr. Gordic, whose only offence was having stood up to Mr. (Arvin) Golic, a bully.”

Reiner argued the man has still not accepted responsibility for his role in the attack, only regret at its outcome.

Gordic
Luka Gordic, 19, was killed in a stabbing in Whistler early on May 17, 2015. Two of the men accused in the killing have had their charges upgraded to second-degree murder. - Facebook

The man’s lawyer, Donna Turko, however, said her client has performed “extremely well” in jail, both educationally and in his institutional job, and keeping him in prison would amount to “warehousing,” according to Schultes’ ruling.

Having completed two core programs, obtained his welding tickets and begun a post-secondary business course while in jail, the man had exhausted all of the programs available to him in jail, according to a probation officer who wrote a report referenced at the hearing.

During the three-and-a-half years he was out on bail before being convicted in October 2017, the man had also fully complied with his bail conditions, and psychiatrists who assessed him found him to be a low risk to reoffend, according to court documents.

Schultes ultimately found he had made “exceptional efforts towards rehabilitation.”

“Balancing his individual concerns with the overall public interest, which ultimately benefits from supporting the rehabilitation of offenders in appropriate cases, I concluded that his conditional release was justified,” Schultes said in his ruling.

Luka Gordic
Luka Gordic, right, was killed in Whistler on May 17. A Facebook page, created in his memory, calls for justice to be served in light of his death. Four teens have been charged in connection with his death. - Courtesy of Facebook

During his conditional release, the man will have to report to a probation officer, live where directed by the probation officer, be at home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week except with permission from his probation officer, seek and maintain employment or go to school, abstain from drugs and alcohol and participate in counselling as directed.

The man is also banned from going to Whistler and from having any contact with any of his co-accused or any witnesses at his trial. He also intends to appeal his manslaughter conviction, according to Schultes’ ruling.

Gordic, 19, was swarmed by eight to 15 youths outside of a 7-Eleven in Whistler on the May long weekend in 2015 after a dispute between him and one of the members of the group, 18-year-old Arvin Golic.

Gordic had sent a message to Golic earlier, confronting him about mistreating his ex-girlfriend and telling him to stop.

The attack lasted less than 10 seconds, ending in a fatal stab to the heart.

Golic was found guilty of manslaughter in June 2017 and handed a seven-year prison sentence.

A co-accused was convicted of murder for plunging the knife into Gordic’s heart and sentenced as an adult to life in prison without eligibility for parole for seven years, even though he was only 17 at the time of the killing.

A fourth man was found guilty of manslaughter and handed a three-year custody and supervision order.

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