No jail time for West Vancouver teen stabber

Victim stabbed 4 times in front of onlookers, taunted in ambulance

A teenaged boy who attacked a fellow high school student, stabbing him four times with a knife before a crowd of horrified onlookers at West Vancouver secondary, will not face jail time for his actions.

The teen - now 17 - will instead be put on two years' probation, including six months under a daily curfew, following a sentencing on charges of aggravated assault and threatening, in North Vancouver provincial court.

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Judge Doug Moss called it a difficult decision, noting the stabbing was serious, violent and premeditated.

But he concluded both the teen and society would be better served in the long term by keeping him out of jail.

The attack, which took place before shocked students and teachers, happened on the morning of Oct. 29, 2010, when the teen ran up to his victim near the West Vancouver high school's "smoke pit" and attacked him from behind.

The teen obviously did not care who saw him, the judge noted, and ignored a teacher who told him to stop, continuing "his violent rampage." After he was pulled off the victim, the teen took off, leaving the boy he attacked bleeding heavily on the ground.

He was arrested soon after at home, but not before he called the victim on his cellphone, while he was in the ambulance being rushed to hospital. The attacker left a taunting comment: "Hey, how do you feel about the whole thing now?"

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, neither the stabber nor his victim can be named.

The boy who was attacked was hospitalized for several days with serious injuries, including a punctured lung. A high-school friend who witnessed the attack performed first aid and likely saved the victim's life.

The night before the attack, the attacker and victim had exchanged a series of threatening text messages.

"I am going to kill you, you fucking faggot," the attacker wrote in one of them.

Just prior to the stabbing, he warned another teenaged girl not to go to the smoke pit, saying he was going to stab the victim at recess. He said he would kill her if she called anyone to try to stop him.

"Clearly the accused's violent actions were planned and deliberate," Moss noted.

Crown counsel Linda Ostry asked the judge to lock up the teen for a year, noting the victim is still struggling with the trauma of the attack.

Pre-sentence and psychological reports completed in the six months after the stabbing painted a dark picture of the attacker, as a depressed and suicidal teen who was distant from his parents, and combining a frightening combination of prescription anti-psychotic drugs with serious recreational drugs including crystal meth, ecstasy and the horse-tranquilizer ketamine.

Moss described the drug abuse as "extremely troubling in a 15-year-old boy" noting recent fatal overdoses by young people who were taking ecstasy in the Vancouver area.

The teen's defence lawyer Richard Fowler described the boy at the time of the attack as psychologically and socially troubled. But he said in the past seven months, the teen - now 17 - has turned his life around. The family has moved away from the Lower Mainland, the teen is off all drugs, is back attending school, and several psychologists now deem him a low risk to reoffend.

Noting the teen has no prior convictions, Moss said under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, he had to consider jail as a last resort.

While on probation, the teen is banned from West Vancouver, must stay away from his victim, perform 75 hours of community work service and take a violent offender treatment program. He must also stay off drugs and alcohol and obey a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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