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Killer's sentence too light: family
Five-year prison term for Angus Kikoak's killer sparks criticism from family

Katherine Hudson and Katie May
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 11, 2011

INUVIK - The family of an Inuvik man say his killer's light sentence doesn't serve justice, nor does it value the life of Angus Kikoak, who was viciously beaten to death during an alcohol-fuelled attack in December 2009.

NNSL photo/graphic

Mayor of Inuvik Denny Rodgers said Claude Jerome Harry's sentence is light considering he has 19 prior convictions for assault. - NNSL file photo

From their home in Sudbury, Ont., Angus Kikoak's brother Steven Kikoak and his wife Tammy spoke out against the light sentence and the "two for one" jail-time credit Claude Jerome Harry, 39, received.

"Where's the justice in that?" Steven wondered.

A harsher sentence would've "shown value toward Angus' life," Tammy said.

"The system completely failed Angus and the entire family," she added. "A five-year sentence just does not allow family to heal at all. It just completely opened up all the hurt again. It's like that night, Dec. 19, all over again."

Steven said the effects of such a light sentence go far beyond the victim's family.

"I believe this sentence is going to affect the whole community. This dangerous offender shouldn't even be allowed back on the streets," he said. "I don't know what Inuvik is thinking. I think the mayor should speak up."

Mayor of Inuvik Denny Rodgers said he agrees the sentence is light considering Harry has 19 prior convictions for assault.

Harry's double credit for the time spent in custody since his arrest Dec. 19, 2009, means he will serve about three more years.

"If you remember the family and you see someone who has 19 previous convictions and they're only getting five years (for the most recent conviction of manslaughter), as a member of that family you might say 'Well what's a life worth?'" said Rodgers, adding the individual has been convicted of prior violent crimes. "I'm not a judge and I'm not a lawyer. I'm sure the decision was made based on precedent but it does seem very light," he said.

Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsey criticized sentences handed out to repeat violent offenders and the lack of proper programs to incarcerated individuals at the legislative assembly Feb. 9.

Ramsey is asking for a review of the programs and services available at correctional facilities in the NWT.

"If some of these individuals are getting in and getting out and just repeating the cycle all over again, society's paying the price because it's going to be somebody else that gets either maimed or killed," said Ramsey.

He said the government has an obligation to ensure when people are incarcerated they get available programs and services through the rehabilitation process.

As an example, he said the North Slave Correctional Centre has been without a clinical psychologist for more than two years.

"It's a gaping hole in our program and service for incarcerated individuals when we don't have a clinical psychologist on staff at our largest facility," he said.

Ramsey said he realizes it is difficult to run a program all the time, but running a six-week anger and emotions program at North Slave Correctional Facilities once in a year is unacceptable.

"It's sad to think that there are so many repeat offenders out there. The system failed this guy 19 times. It's a cycle that we can't allow to continue," said Ramsey.

"What I'm looking for is there's got to be a better way to try to rehabilitate offenders so they're not getting out, so we're ensuring that at the end of the day, public safety is maintained," he said.

"We wonder why statistics are going up and people are re-offending, it's little wonder."

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