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'It's a joke': family slams sentence for Luka Gordic manslaughter

Last Updated Dec 5, 2017 at 5:54 pm PST

Luka Gordic, 19, died May 17th, 2015 in Whistler. (Courtesy Facebook)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There was anger and disappointment at BC Supreme Court in Downtown Vancouver, as the man convicted of manslaughter in the killing of a teen in Whistler in 2015 received his sentence.

Arvin Golic has been sentenced to seven years in prison, minus credit for time served, for the manslaughter of 19-year-old Luka Gordic. Prosecutors say the swarming attack involved up to 15 people and was planned.

As the judge read the sentence in court, Gordic’s relatives shouted and even banged the glass dividing the gallery from the rest of the courtroom.

Afterwards, Luka’s father Mitch Gordic said he couldn’t believe it.

“It’s a joke what [the judge] did,” he said. “I have to tell you. I didn’t have confidence in the judge from Day 1.”

“I’m not legally too much inclined, but I have common sense. Right from Day 1, I didn’t get her questions and now this decision that she’s made. It’s a joke. Instead of the guy being charged with first degree murder and convicted for organizing [the] killing, she gave him manslaughter, and then after….she gives him seven years, minus this, minus that.”

The Crown had been asking for a nine to 11-year sentence. But prosecutor Hank Reiner said the decision was reasonable, and the Crown is not considering an appeal.

“It didn’t come as a surprise or a shock,” he said. “Her reasons were thorough and she canvassed all the points that were made by us, Crown, and defense. So I don’t think it’s appealable on either side. It’s a bit lower than we had hoped for and expected.

“But the problem, as I explained to the family, is that we all think we know what happened, but we have to be able to prove it. Unfortunately none of the juveniles [three underage people also convicted in the swarming attack] were willing to assist. They kept quiet, and the judge wasn’t satisfied in convicting [of first degree murder] on circumstantial evidence, concluding that he orchestrated a knife attack.

“[Golic] was convicted and sentenced on the basis that he didn’t know a knife was going to be used. When you look at that in the context of the cases, seven years is a reasonable sentence and I don’t think it’s appealable on either side,” Reiner said.

“It’s 1 to 1 for now,” defense lawyer Matthew Nathanson said of time already served. “There is a complicated legal issue that’s bubbling in the background. There is a decision that is going to come down from our Court of Appeal as to the constitutionality of a section that was brought in by the Harper government limiting credit to 1 for 1. We took the position that section was unconstitutional. If the court of appeal agrees with that argument, my client will receive for 1.5 per one, so we’re basically just waiting to see what the Court of Appeal does.”

Three other young people involved in Gordic’s death are awaiting sentencing. One young man was found guilty of second-degree murder and two others guilty of manslaughter in October. They can’t be named because of their ages at the time of the crime.