Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





what justice

When I first heard the news that the person responsible for the death of Emerson Curran was only given five years for his crime, I reacted like I hope most people would -- with outrage.

How is it possible that a much bigger man can get away with pummeling someone three years his junior so badly that he's knocked of his feet and then continue to beat him will he laid unconscious on the floor, and get five years?

Forget the fact the fact that he was allowed to go free on bail for more than six months after he pled guilty to the charge of manslaughter which is joke onto itself.

No, the crime committed here is that a judge thinks the taking of Emerson Curran's life is only worth five years.

I knew Emerson and I know his parents extremely well. His father Michael and I worked at the Orleans Star together. In fact, I can still remember when Mike brought his newborn son into the office to show him off.

Mike and Catrina were understandably proud of their first child, and he would give them many more reason for them to be proud of him during his 20 short years on earth.

Emerson was a great kid and he never gave his parents any reason to think otherwise. He was a good student and a talented enough athlete to make the St. Peter Knights football team as a starting receiver. Mike and I used to joke that he was blessed by a gifted athlete, while I was blessed with two of the least athletic kids on the planet.

Emerson was also a model older brother to his younger siblings Graeme, Liam and Lauren. To understand the type of person Emerson was, when he went out for a drive with his mother a year before his tragic death, he told her that he had signed his organ donation card and that if and when the time came, he wanted to make sure she knew his wished. "Give it all," he told her.

Little did either one of them know how prophetic their conversation would be. One year later, Emerson's parents would both proudly and painfully agree to grant his wish and donate whatever organs could be of use.

As it turned out they would donate his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas to five different recipients at least one of which would have died within 48 hours without a new organ.

I'm sure Emerson is somewhere beaming pride with pride that his senseless passing brought a second chance at life to others. Which brings back to the sentencing of the man responsible and why the allotment of five years is just perpetrating another tragedy on top of what is already unimaginably tragic event.

And don't be fooled in thinking that Bourque will spend the next five years behind bars. Under our corrections and parole system, the 25-year-old will be eligible for day parole in just 14 months and full parole in 20 months. Meaning with good behaviour, Bourque will be a free man in less than two years.

In sentencing Bourque to two years less four months with good behaviour, Justice Karan Shaner has committed a further indignity on both Emerson and his family.

And to add insult to further injury, Justice Shaner plans to recommend that Bourque be incarcerated in the NWT so he can be close to his family. Talk about throwing salt on the wound and rubbing it in.

If I didn't know any better I might be swayed into believing that Bourque benefited from a home court advantage.

Now a Devil's advocate might say that a five year sentence is fair. That Bourque was drunk and that it takes two to tango, and that he expressed deep remorse for his actions. To which I say, the Devil's advocate sounds a lot like Bourque's lawyer.

We don't make any concessions for drunk drivers who commit murder, why should we make concessions for anyone else who commits crime under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What's the old saying? Stupidity is not a defence.

We are all responsible for our actions and the consequences that result no matter what they might be.

First of all someone who beats a smaller person to death should be charged with aggravated assault as well as manslaughter, it doesn't matter if they're drunk or not. And a proper sentence would have been 10-12 years, which means he would have to serve a minimum of three to four years before he's eligible for parole.

Let's face it, five years is little more than a slap on the wrist and a slap in the face to everyone who knew and loved Emerson.

As for the Curran family, my heart goes out to them. Outwardly, Mike and Catrina have held up extremely well, but I can only imagine the hell they are going through inside.

You read a lot in the media nowadays about "closure", but in reality there is never any closure, except maybe for the media who get to move on to the next story and the next young life that is taken away far too early.

There is never any closure and there never should be. What one hopes for is peace. A respite from the pain and despair that can often be immobilizing.

Mike and Catrina are among the best people I know. They deserved better from the justice system, but at the same time no sentence, no matter how long or severe, will bring Emerson back. I can only pray that God will grant them some peace from the weight of their loss and that over time, the bad days and restless nights will diminish leaving a lasting memory of a prodigal son.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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