Christopher Brisson, 25, is shown in an RCMP handout photo released when police were seeking information from the public about his 2015 killing. Darryl Sheepway was convicted of second degree murder in connection with Brisson’s death. (RCMP handout/Yukon News file)

Crown and defence argue over Darryl Sheepway’s parole eligibility at sentencing hearing

Crown asked for 15 years of parole ineligibility for convicted murderer while defence asked for 10

The sentencing hearing for Darryl Sheepway, found guilty last year of second-degree murder in the 2015 shooting of Christopher Brisson, concluded April 20 with the Crown and defence disagreeing on how long he should be ineligible for parole.

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for a minimum 10 years. Crown attorney Jennifer Grandy argued that Sheepway should be ineligible for parole for 15 years, while the defence argued that Sheepway should get the minimum.

The proceedings April 20 were prolonged by what the Crown said was an unexpected move by the defence to call Sheepway to testify about conditions at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, which the defence said should be taken into account for sentencing.

On the stand, Sheepway said that, for his first eight months at the WCC, he had “zero” interaction with other inmates and spent about 22 hours in his cell a day.

“I’ve often described it as feeling like torture, because essentially I have absolutely nothing to do except watch TV.… It’s pretty hard to try and deal with that,” he said, adding that the last time he was outdoors was May 2016.

Sheepway filed a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court in February about his conditions, and testified that, the next day, he was suddenly allowed to interact with inmates he had previously been deemed “incompatible” with.

Grandy disagreed that Sheepway’s experience at the WCC had any bearing on sentencing, and argued that the facts of the case demonstrate the need for extended parole ineligibility.

Sheepway shot Brisson as Brisson was attempting to flee, Grandy said, and then, undeterred by Brisson’s death, stole drugs and cash from Brisson’s body before disposing of him at Miles Canyon, actions that show a “high level of moral blameworthiness.”

Grandy cited Sheepway’s poor rehabilitation prospects as another reason to increase the period of parole ineligibility. Sheepway himself testified during the trial that he continued to dream about and crave crack cocaine, she said, and evidence showed that, before his arrest, he attended detox centres, hospitals and rehab without long-term success.

The Crown also requested a DNA order, a lifetime firearms ban and the forfeiture of the shotgun used in the murder.

The defence, however, argued that Sheepway should receive the 10-year minimum and also asked that the firearm ban only be in effect for 10 years. Lawyer Lynn McDiarmid noted that Sheepway will already be serving a life sentence, the harshest punishment possible in the Canadian justice system and something the court must keep in mind.

McDiarmid also disagreed with the Crown’s argument that Sheepway doesn’t have good rehabilitation prospects, arguing that his addiction began and escalated within a short time frame, during which he did attempt to seek help before being arrested. It’s unfair to say that Sheepway’s chances of rehabilitation are poor, she argued, when he hasn’t been given a proper chance to receive programming despite requesting it in jail.

Sheepway’s crack cocaine addiction and the actions he undertook while addicted were also out of character, McDiarmid said. The defence provided the court with 11 letters of support written by members of Sheepway’s family, all of which expressed shock at Sheepway’s current situation and described him as a previously kind, compassionate person.

One of the letters was by Sheepway’s parents, who, along with his younger sister, were present in court Friday. Their letter described him as a “kind, well-rounded person” who was living his dream life in the Yukon before falling into crack cocaine addiction.

“The day he took those terrible drugs is the day we lost our son,” the letter said.

McDiarmid acknowledged that Sheepway did initially lie to police, but has since been honest and forthright, assisting police with a reenactment that was crucial in the investigation and admitting to details that didn’t flatter his case. His cooperation should be a mitigating factor, she argued, as well as the fact that the murder was committed while he was in the throes of addiction, therefore lowering his “moral culpability.”

Sheepway’s other lawyer, Vincent Larochelle, also argued that his client’s experience at the WCC should be taken into consideration, adding that while no one can dispute that Sheepway’s behaviour was bad, it doesn’t necessarily bear on his character as a whole.

Sheepway was given an opportunity to address the court during the defence submissions, during which he apologized to Brisson’s family and maintained that he never intended to kill him.

“If I never tried crack cocaine, I would have never met Chris Brisson. I am truly sorry for what happened to Chris.… I am truly regretful for the horror I’ve put your family though,” he said, adding that not a day goes by where he wishes he never tried crack.

Sheepway also pleaded guilty to nine robberies April 20, which he committed in Ontario after killing Brisson. The Crown asked he be sentenced to seven years on those charges, while the defence argued that a five-year sentence would be more appropriate.

Gower reserved his decision. The court will reconvene May 8 to pick a date for Gower to deliver his sentence and reasonings.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Darryl SheepwayYukon courts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read