Opinion: These are the things the Burnaby sucker-punch killer will get to do that his victim won't

Chris Campbell

Families of victims are rarely satisfied with the sentences imposed by judges on people convicted of crimes – especially crimes involving violence.

Friday’s sentencing hearing for a Burnaby tragedy was no different.

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Lawrence Sharpe was found guilty of manslaughter in March for killing 22-year-old Michael Page-Vincelli with a single sucker punch at a North Burnaby Starbucks three years ago, and then sentenced to two years in jail and another two years on probation.

Michael’s mother Steffany Page was not impressed with the sentence, nor should she be.

“A life is worth more than two years,” she told the NOW on Friday outside of court.

Justice Mary Humphries sounded almost defensive in her explanation for the sentence, saying the law is “not an instrument of vengeance” but of retribution, which incorporates the principle of restraint.

I get what she’s trying to say, but try explaining the concept “restraint” to a mother who has lost her son to a brutal act of violence.

What really got me was when the judge said Sharpe would forever live with the consequences of his “hasty and unlawful act – that is the death of a young man beloved by his family.”

That’s the part that really sticks with me because it implies that the killer has a conscience that will allow him to be haunted in a significant way to warrant not giving him more time in prison. And who knows if that’s really true.

Sure, there might be some dark days in the killer’s head and perhaps he’ll have trouble finding a good job that will give him a comfortable life, but there are so many things in life like he’ll get to enjoy to more than make up for some guilt.

Starbucks death
Michael Page-Vincelli - Cornelia Naylor

Here are some of the things the killer will get to enjoy that Michael won’t.

He can start a family. Kids can bring him so much joy – enough to forget about what happened.

He can travel. Sure, travelling outside of Canada is probably impossible, but he can explore our great nation and have exhilarating adventures.

He can fall in love. Or just stay in love with the woman acquitted in Michael’s death. Whatever happens to their relationship, it will be more than Michael will ever get to do.

He can change his name to help escape his past.

He can enjoy literally everything in life that brings us joy – music, movies, food, sex, books. Every day outside of prison will be gravy to this killer.

My heart is broken for Michael’s parents. They feel the justice system let them down and it’s hard to disagree with that.

What impressed me the most about Steffany Page was what she said about hoping that what happened to Michael will signal some sort of change in our society. Toxic masculinity, which led this killer to punch Michael to death over a slight, is out of control in our society.

I wish men could see what happened to Michael and realize that it’s just not worth adhering to this bizarre macho code. Just yesterday, the start of the NFL season, I saw on Twitter a bunch of videos of fans getting into fist fights over nothing.

All it takes is one punch to end a life, so don’t throw it.

- With files from Cornelia Naylor

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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