Thomas Chan sentenced to prison, released on bail after appealing conviction

Thomas Chan has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for the manslaughter death of his father, Dr. Andrew Chan, and the aggravated assault of his father’s partner, Lynn Witteveen.

The Crown was seeking an eight-year sentence, while Chan’s lawyer asked the court to consider four to five years in prison.

In sentencing the 22-year-old, Superior Court Justice Cary Boswell noted the effect that the death of Dr. Chan, a prominent gastrologist in Peterborough, and the attack on Witteveen has had on their family and friends as well as the wider community.

Boswell also said it’s unlikely anyone will be happy with the sentence he imposed and spoke of the younger Chan’s remorse for his crimes.

“No sentence I could impose today will add any meaningful, specific (deterrent) on top of the overwhelming grief and shame Mr. Chan has already experienced,” Boswell said.

“One could scarcely imagine a person more profoundly remorseful for his actions than Mr. Chan. When given his right of allocution, he spoke in eloquent and heartfelt terms about his regret for the pain he has caused so many people close to him.”

Court heard that Chan was with his friends on Dec. 27, 2015, when the group decided to buy magic mushrooms. Chan took an extra dose, court heard, and began to meditate to enhance the drug’s effects.

Court then heard that Chan fell into a psychotic state and began referring to people as “devils.” He broke into his father’s house and stabbed his father to death with a kitchen knife before attacking Witteveen, stabbing her multiple times, court heard.

Witteveen suffered numerous injuries as a result of the attack. When she read her victim impact statement aloud in court, she testified that she will struggle with her injuries for the rest of her life.

Boswell handed Chan a sentence of five years in prison but took one year off due to the time he had spent in pretrial custody at the Central East Correctional Centre.

The judge said he was giving Chan additional credit for time served due to the conditions he faced while incarcerated for four months awaiting bail. Court heard Chan was placed in solitary confinement and allowed to shower and head outside for 20 minutes of fresh air every other day.

Boswell described the conditions as “inhumane” and noted that four months in solitary confinement is eight times longer than what the United Nations describes as prolonged solitary confinement, something that should only be used in extreme circumstances.

“I am prepared to accept that intense and prolonged isolation such as that experienced by Mr. Chan over four months in Segregation Unit 8 would inevitably result in substantial mental suffering,” Boswell said.

Boswell then reduced Chan’s sentence a further six months, citing his bail conditions. Chan’s lawyers had argued that his continuous monitoring and limited movement was tantamount to house arrest.

Though Chan was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, his lawyer, Dave McFadden, said his client would likely be released from custody later Monday.

Chan has appealed his verdict. McFadden said the appeal will likely be heard in May.

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