A 54-year-old Abbotsford man who stabbed a woman to death in the foyer of her Harrison Hot Springs home in 2007 fits the criteria of a dangerous offender, but was sentenced Thursday as a long-term offender instead.
Sidney Andrew Robinson was sent to jail by a B.C. Supreme Court Justice for a total of 12 years – but will effectively serve only four years when double credit for time already served in custody is factored in – followed by 10 years of “close supervision” under the long-term offender designation.
Robinson was found guilty of manslaughter on March 18, 2011 for the slaying of Holly McFadden, a 54-year-old teacher, on June, 29, 2007.
Robinson had met McFadden at a New Year’s Eve party that year, just after he’d been released from the psychiatric ward of the MSA hospital in Abbotsford where he was treated for a mental breakdown.
But he was also under treatment for a brain-injury suffered in a motorcycle accident in 2000.
McFadden befriended the man one forensic psychologist at trial described as a “ticking time bomb” with poor impulse control due to the brain injury.
He also had a string of convictions for violent crimes against women, including sex assault and robbery.
But on Thursday Justice Brian Joyce said he was satisfied, based on expert testimony at trial and by reports of Robinson’s behavior while in custody over the past four years, that there is a “reasonable possibility” Robinson will respond to treatment programs in prison, and to others while under supervision, to gain the self-control needed to ensure the protection of the public.
Crown counsel had argued at earlier hearings that only dangerous offender status – which would have kept Robinson in custody for an “indeterminate” time – could guarantee protection of the public, in light of the permanent brain damage.
But on Thursday Joyce said Robinson’s “remorse” for killing McFadden – one of his few friends – his conduct in custody over the past four years, especially his consistent use of medication prescribed for depression, gave him “optimism” that Robinson would do well when released into the community, under “close” supervision.
“He cannot be cured for his traumatic brain injury,” Joyce said. But he added that Robinson will likely live in a half-way house during the 10-year supervision order, and there are treatment programs designed specially for brain-injured people.
The justice also said that Robinson will be nearly 70 years old when the supervision order expires, and age is a factor in committing violent crimes.
“I’m satisfied that (age) is something to be taken into account in this case,” he said.
McFadden’s two sisters and a brother-in-law, who have attended nearly every day of court hearings since 2007, were at the Chilliwack courthouse Thursday but chose not to comment immediately on the sentencing.
A former common-law wife of Robinson’s has also attended court hearings, but she also chose not to comment immediately on Thursday.