As the Beatles lamented more than a half century ago, money can’t buy love.
Yet, despite that, it still can drive people to do inexplicable things.
Take for example, Jean Havyarimana, the Calgary man who this week pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of shopkeeper Maqsood Ahmed.
Greed drove Havyarimana and two accomplices to plot the robbery of Ahmed’s Calgary Produce Market on Oct. 8, 2014.
As it turned out, the stakes were high. Ahmed left his northeast Calgary shop that evening with a bag full of money, as much as $70,000 in cash.
It’s not clear if Havyarimana and his partners in crime knew how much money they stood to gain by their nefarious plan, but they were certainly prepared to resort to violence to carry it out.
According to a statement of agreed facts presented at Havyarimana’s sentencing on Tuesday, Ahmed was mugged by Havyarimana and one of his accomplices as he left his business.
Havyarimana pepper sprayed his innocent victim as one accomplice grabbed the loot and another waited in a nearby getaway car.
Despite being disabled by the pepper spray and likely incensed at being robbed of his hard earned money, Ahmed took chase to try to retrieve what was rightfully his.
It was, sadly, a fatal decision. After catching up to the accomplice, Ahmed struggled to get his sack of money back and was repeatedly stabbed for his efforts, Crown prosecutor Marta Juzwiak told court.
As he lay bleeding to death, Havyarimana added a final indignity to their victim, stomping his head and kicking and striking him, Juzwiak said.
It’s possible the offenders didn’t know the gravity of their attack, but they had to know Ahmed was at the very least seriously wounded.
Which makes the fact they later joked around and celebrated their crime while divvying up the proceeds at one of their homes all the more disgusting.
Defence lawyer Cory Wilson told Justice Glen Poelman his client was deeply remorseful for his conduct and never intended such a grave result for his actions.
Wilson noted his client came to Canada in 2007, as a refugee from war-torn Burundi where he “saw unspeakable acts and lost two older brothers during that war.
“Having to flee that war-torn country has had significant impact on his life,” Wilson said.
“It was never Mr. Havyarimana’s intent to take anyone’s life that night.”
In accepting a joint submission by Wilson and Juzwiak for a nine-year sentence, Poelman acknowledged that Havyarimana didn’t set out to kill anyone and was now sorry for what he did.
But while noting Havyarimana’s remorse today, 30 months after he took part in the botched and fatal robbery, Poelman had some harsh words for what he called a “horrendous crime … motivated initially by pure greed.”
Havyarimana’s conduct amounted to “excessive and gratuitous violence on a defenceless victim,” the Court of Queen’s Bench judge said.
“The whole episode demonstrates … a shockingly low view of the value of human life,” Poelman said.
“Mr. Havyarimana and his colleagues celebrated what they in no doubt viewed as their success of their escapade.”
That, Poelman said, showed “a deplorable lack of remorse for the taking of an innocent life.”
And, he noted, Havyarimana sought refuge in Canada to escape violence in his native Burundi, only to resort to such behaviour here.
“You have come to this country seeking a better life … you have not made a good start at it.”
The judge suggested that instead of opening up his eyes to the horrors of violence, Havyarimana’s upbringing “taught (him) to treat life cheaply.”
“However horrific your own background may be, it is no excuse for (your) moral responsibility for the life you have lived in this country.”
Sadly it took a death to drive that lesson home.
By Kevin Martin, Postmedia Network First posted: Wednesday, April 05, 2017 01:08 PM MDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 05, 2017 02:02 PM MDT
[ http://www.calgarysun.com/2017/04/05/judge-castigates-calgary-killer-a-refugee-from-burundi-however-horrific-your-own-background-may-be-it-is-no-excuse ]