A teenage boy charged with three others in connection with a shooting of a man on Springdale Street in St. John’s earlier this year has admitted to being the one to pull the trigger.
It was a case of love and jealousy and rage, the court heard Friday. The victim, a 21-year-old man, had been sending sexual texts to the teen’s girlfriend. The plan wasn’t to shoot him or kill him, but to restrain him and beat him up.
But then someone brought a gun to the scene. The teenager shot the victim as he was trying to get away, leaving him seriously injured. He spent about 10 days in hospital with shattered bones, needing surgery. Eight bullet fragments were removed from his body.
“It was stupid of me,” the teenager wrote in an apologetic letter to the court, read to the judge by defence lawyer Susan Day during the boy’s sentencing hearing Friday afternoon. “I hope he is OK.”
The teenager has pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault, unlawful confinement, pointing a firearm and unauthorized use of a firearm in connection with the incident, which happened in an apartment at 74 Springdale St. around lunchtime on Jan. 30.
The Crown has withdrawn an attempted murder charge, given his guilty pleas.
Day is suggesting the teenager be given a sentence of time served and four months open custody, meaning he would live at a halfway house under supervision.
The teen has been held in juvenile detention since his arrest last winter.
He has made significant progress in terms of his schooling and behaviour, and an open custodial sentence would allow him to continue on that path, Day said.
She said the boy, who can’t be named in the media because of his age, wants to get his life on track, eventually training to be a mechanic.
“I might not have been the best kid when I got here (in juvenile detention), but now I have more control over my emotions. I have to prove I can do better and be a better person,” he wrote in his letter.
Crown prosecutor Alana Dwyer suggested a sentence of 18 to 24 months in full custody would be more appropriate for the teen, given the violent and impulsive nature of his crimes.
“We would suggest that can’t be addressed without custody,” she told Judge Mike Madden, saying she had concerns for public safety. “The Crown is not denying he has made great strides with schooling and counseling … but we do submit that he does have a ways to come.”
A period of open custody or probation would leave the boy without the tools he needs for further rehabilitation, Dwyer said.
“He could slip back into old patterns, which could certainly lead to more violence.”
The teen will be back in court on Tuesday. Three of his co-accused — Mabel Stanley, Harold Noftall and Rebecca Murphy — also made court appearances Friday.
Noftall, 55, appeared in court via videolink from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary and pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault, forcible confinement, public mischief and breach of probation.
The Crown indicated it would withdraw a number of other charges, including one of attempted murder.
Stanley, 42, pleaded guilty at the end of July to aggravated assault, forcible confinement and public mischief.
Stanley and Noftall will be sentenced Dec. 8.
Before his proceedings ended, Noftall asked the judge to consider lifting a court order that he have no contact with Stanley.
“I just found out two weeks ago I have colon cancer,” he said. “Mabel Stanley is my common-law wife and I have no support in here. I’m not going through this alone.”
Noftall’s lawyer, Arnold Hussey, told the court he would make an application to have the no-contact order dropped.
The fourth accused, 19-year-old Murphy, is not in custody and appeared in court in person, where she entered not guilty pleas on all her charges: attempted murder, aggravated assault, public mischief and attempting to obstruct justice. Her five-day trial is scheduled to begin the first week of January 2018.