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B.C. man sentenced for 'horrific, cowardly' beating death of 78-year-old man

The Columbia River and downtown Trail, B.C., are seen in this undated file photo. (shutterstock.com) The Columbia River and downtown Trail, B.C., are seen in this undated file photo. (shutterstock.com)
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A British Columbia man who burned down his father's home and then kicked to death a 78-year-old stranger on the main street of a quiet mountain town has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for what the judge described as "a horrific, cowardly and senseless act of violence."

B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Crossin ruled the prosecution's case against Joel Aaron Thomas Anderson, who was 25 years old when he killed Harold Paddock, fell short of proving he had the mental wherewithal to be found guilty of murder.

The judge instead found him guilty of manslaughter for the August 2017 killing in Trail, B.C.

The court heard that Paddock, who used a walker and was in poor health, was slowly crossing the street on the morning of Aug. 22, 2017, when Anderson, who was wearing steel-toed boots, knocked the senior to the ground and kicked him repeatedly, causing fractures to his skull, nose and upper and lower jaws.

"Mr. Paddock was then left by Mr. Anderson lying bloodied and unconscious in the middle of the street," Crossin wrote in his sentencing decision published online last week. "He never regained consciousness and died approximately one month following the attack."

'Life snatched away'

Earlier that morning, while under the influence of methamphetamine and auditory delusions, Anderson walked to his father's vacant home, entered it and set it on fire before heading back downtown around 5 a.m.

He would later plead guilty to arson, earning a three-year prison sentence.

Anderson was arrested that afternoon "as he continued to wander the streets of Trail," but not before getting into an argument with a drug-world associate and hitting him with a coffee pot. The attack would earn him an additional two-year sentence for assault with a weapon.

Paddock's daughter provided a victim impact statement to the court, saying she has experienced sustained anxiety, insomnia, stress and sadness in the years since her father's death.

"Mr. Paddock had his life snatched away in a matter of seconds," the judge wrote. "A life he had a right to live to its natural end."

The court credited Anderson for time served in custody while awaiting his sentence, leaving just over four years and seven months on his manslaughter prison term.

He is also prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition for 10 years upon his release.

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