Young athlete Taitusi Vikilani sentenced to 6 months for manslaughter
A 20-year-old athlete who was convicted of manslaughter for his part in a deadly attack outside a Burnaby, B.C. SkyTrain station has been sentenced to spend less than six months behind bars.
Prosecutors had argued Taitusi Vikilani should be put away for four years, a sentence that would have prevented the young immigrant from appealing a potential deportation order.
Though Vikilani has spent almost his entire life in Canada, having moved from Tonga with his family when he was three, he never applied for citizenship.
The judge credited the former rugby player, who was once on Team Canada's radar, for showing remorse, and accepted the defence's argument that the crime was an alcohol-fueled mistake.
"Alcohol changed his character that night, but he hasn't had a drink since and I doubt very much he'll ever have a drink again," Vikilani's lawyer Patrick Beirne said outside court.
On top of his prison term of six months minus a day, Vikilani was also given three years' probation.
That was of little consolation to the family of the victim, James Enright, who was just 27 years old when he was killed. The deceased's mother, Barbara Stevenson, said she was profoundly disappointed by the sentence.
"I don't feel that justice has been served at all," Stevenson said. "My son is dead and he gets to go home in six months and be with his family and carry on like nothing happened. We're the ones that have been given a life sentence."
The court heard Enright was killed after standing up for a woman Vikilani had punched in the face late at night in a parking lot back in February 2015.
She and Enright were sitting in a car outside Edmonds SkyTrain Station when they saw Vikilani and fellow athlete Jesse Sellam, who had just left a drunken party, fighting with a group of men.
Prosecutors said Vikilani saw Enright's friend recording the altercation on her cellphone and decided to approach the car and punch her. Enright stepped out to intervene, at which point Sellam stabbed him in the heart and Vikilani punched him in the face.
While Vikilani didn't deal the fatal blow, the court found him partially responsible for Enright's death.
Sellam was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the stabbing.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber