The two men convicted of beating Carcross hotelier Bob Olson to death in 2004 have shown drastic change during their past seven years in prison, said Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale on Wednesday.
Because of their change in behaviour – mostly their acceptance of guilt, participation in treatment, signs of remorse and sobriety – Veale agreed to the sentence proposed by the lawyers on both sides.
He sentenced Dean Boucher, 39, who has been recognized for playing the lead role in Olson’s death, to 12 years. Because of credit for time already served, Boucher will only serve another two years and 11 months in a penitentiary.
For 36-year-old Mark Lange, who played a lesser role in the death, the sentence was nine years and four months. With credit for time already served, that drops down to just three more months. He will serve that at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, followed by 15 months of probation.
When handing down the sentences, Veale said Boucher should be proud of his improvements but he must remember that his “first drink can unravel it all.”
The judge added he believes Boucher’s remorse and apology are sincere but they were a “long-time coming” for this “senseless slaughter.”
It was Dec. 23, 2004 when 64-year-old Olson was beaten to death by the two young men.
Boucher and Lange had been drinking together before pulling up to Olson’s Caribou Hotel. Olson knew the pair and invited them in to drink.
In the early hours of Dec. 24, Boucher and Olson got into an argument over money.
They then beat Olson to the point of unconsciousness. They hit him 15 times – twice on his back, once on his neck, five times on his scalp and seven times in the face.
Then they put Olson in the back of his own truck, with a pillow under his head and a coat over his body. They also lifted some artwork from the hotel.
Driving to Whitehorse, they pulled over to check on him only to discover that he was dead.
They dumped his body in a ditch in Whitehorse’s Wolf Creek subdivision and then got the truck stuck in the snow. They called a cab and went downtown.
Three days later, the RCMP discovered Olson’s body. Both Boucher and Lange turned themselves in.
A 2006 trial found both men guilty of second-degree murder but in May 2011, the Court of Appeal granted them a retrial on the basis that the jury had not been given proper instructions.
Both Boucher and Lange then pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Before sentencing Boucher on Wednesday, Veale read out a victim impact statement from Olson’s sister, Lorraine.
It spoke of the value of human life and how she hoped Lange and Boucher would come to appreciate it – including making changes in their own lives to make the best use of the time they have.
As Veale read from the papers in front of him, Boucher sat in a baggy, white T-shirt, nodding his shaved head, frameless glasses perched on his nose.
As he left the courtroom, Boucher hugged and kissed members of his family and bent down to speak with his young son before waving goodbye.
Both Boucher and Lange have extensive criminal records and were entrenched in dangerous and unhealthy lifestyles from a young age, Veale noted.
Boucher was sexually abused as a child and, as the second oldest of eight children, tried to protect his mother from his abusive and alcoholic father. His mother was a drug-user. She moved the family away from their father, to Carcross, when Boucher was just four. He started using drugs and alcohol and started running drugs after high school.
Lange is a First Nation man, but he was adopted and raised by non-aboriginal parents. He blames that for his rebellious, violent and anti-social behaviour at a young age. At 14, Lange was convicted of his first criminal charge, assault with a weapon. The weapon was a BB gun.
“I’m not as selfish a prick as I used to be,” Veale read from Lange’s apology. “I’ve moved from being a boy to a man. I’m tired of drinking and I’m tired of doing time. And I am very aware that I can never drink again. If I drink again, I might as well be dead.”
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