WINDSOR, ONTARIO - ANGRY KILLER GETS SLAP ON THE WRIST
I am a crime victim, a victim of injustice, betrayal and abuse. The offenses against my human rights have been acknowledged again and again by police and politicians and even human rights organizations, but my right to justice has been denied repeatedly anyway. I have endured 20 years of injustice at the hands of the Montreal Police and irresponsible members of governments in Montreal, Quebec and Canada. These crimes destroyed my family and my health. As I fight for justice every day, I am also fighting for my life against cancer. But I have not lifted a finger to strike at the criminals who tore my life apart. I fight day and night, month after month, year after year, with the most powerful - but the slowest - weapon on earth - TRUTH.
A Windsor judge said he took a Windsor killer's horrid past into consideration in handing Deanna Anne Gamblin a seven-year sentence for manslaughter in the 2014 death of Rafiu Kadean Rashad Azeez.
"Ms. Gamblin had a terrible life," Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin said at the 26-year-old's sentencing Thursday.
Angry and drunk, Gamblin drove the wrong way down Pelissier Street in the early hours of Aug. 3, 2014, aiming for, and deliberately running down, two men, killing Azeez, 31, and seriously injuring Clint Odian Russell, now 32.
"I don't like it at all — it's not good enough," a tearful Rafiu Azeez, whose deceased son shared his name, said when asked about the sentence.
After time-and-a-half credit by the judge for the periods already served in pre-trial custody, Gamblin was sentenced to an additional five years and eight months in prison. Her lawyer told reporters his client could be out on parole by 2018.
"My brother is gone for the rest of his life — I don't agree with the justice system here," said the dead man's older sister, Natasha Desmond.
Rogin addressed the family in court, saying they'd "been through a terrible experience," but he added that Gamblin is a young woman and that, "in Canada, we sentence with the hope of rehabilitation."
The judge described the slain Azeez as a Good Samaritan and "a credit to his community."
It was Azeez who had pulled his friend Russell off of Gamblin after the woman, who had been drinking heavily at a downtown bar, picked a fight with Russell who then retaliated with a punch that knocked her down.
"Unfortunately and tragically," said Rogin, that wasn't the end of it. Gamblin got into her car, drove back and ran the two men down, fatally injuring Azeez and seriously injuring Russell.
Rafiu Azeez, father of Rafiu Kadean Rashad Azeez, 31, cries while talking about his dead son outside Superior Court of Justice where Deanna Anne Gamblin was sentenced on April 21, 2016 to seven years in jail for manslaughter and impaired driving causing bodily harm.
Charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, Gamblin in January pleaded guilty to the reduced charges of manslaughter and impaired driving causing bodily harm.
The maximum penalty for manslaughter is life in prison. Gamblin's five-year sentence on the impaired driving conviction is to be served concurrently to her seven-year term for manslaughter.
Gamblin was ordered to provide a DNA blood sample to police. Upon release, she's prohibited from owning weapons for 10 years and cannot drive for five years.
While the "offence was grave," and the lives of Azeez's parents are "irretrievably damaged," Rogin said he had to take into account the family background of a member of the Canadian aboriginal community and the historical factors that may have played a role.
Referring to pre-sentencing reports, the judge described a bleak family history filled with tragedy, addiction, abuse and despair. A Cree status Indian, both of Gamblin's paternal grandparents and her maternal grandmother were residential school "survivors" whose own children were neglected and whose lives were filled with instances of physical and sexual abuse and government authority intervention.
Gamblin was sexually abused by her alcoholic mother's heroin-addicted partner between the ages of five and 10, had her first child by 16 and has attempted suicide more than once, Rogin told the court.
"She had a very horrendous life," defence lawyer John Getliffe of London told reporters.
And yet, Rogin said during his sentencing announcement, "there is hope for Ms. Gamblin."
The judge said he was impressed with Gamblin's "heart-felt apology" to her victims' families, when she turned to face them in the courtroom at an earlier sentencing hearing. "That took great courage and was a true indication of remorse," he said.
The judge said Gamblin, who had never been involved with the justice system before, has taken positive steps toward recovery and has garnered positive reviews while in pre-trial custody.
The court's hopes for Gamblin didn't soothe the pain felt by the victim's family.
Rafiu Azeez said he used to talk to his son every day, and now he continues those talks, but alone and to himself. "I go to the cemetery all the time," he said.
Azeez said his son loved his factory job, where he worked side-by-side with his younger brother.
"My boy's gone, and I miss him a lot," he said through tears.