It was just a matter of time.
Justice finally caught up to one of Winnipeg’s most notorious Indian Posse gangsters this week, a high-ranking hardcore thug with a penchant for violent street justice.
Michael (Mikey) Guimond, 35, appeared before Provincial Court Judge Brian Corrin on Wednesday to be sentenced on charges of manslaughter and unlawfully causing harm in association with a criminal organization.
Guimond and his partner in crime, IP gangster Warren Darren Flett, 26, plead guilty to the charges earlier this year.
The case involved the senseless gang related killing of rival teen gangster Paris Bruce, 16. Bruce was a member of the Mob Squad, a rival gang involved in slinging crack and other nefarious criminal activities.
On Sept. 4, 2013, Bruce played a role in an ill-fated hostile takeover attempt of an Indian Posse crack shack. The problem was he had no idea who he was messing with.
He probably didn’t know Guimond was an original gangster with a long, violent pedigree that included involvement in several notable Winnipeg killings.
When Guimond and his enraged associates caught up with Bruce, the teen had little chance of survival. In a scene that must have been reminiscent of a Great White Shark feeding frenzy, Bruce was punched, kicked, stabbed and beaten to death.
The post-mortem examination identified a total of 29 external injuries, 14 areas of injury to the head and neck and nine distinct areas of injury to his brain. He died from massive trauma to the head.
It was just another day at the office for Michael Guimond, a man with a violent past. The Court heard Guimond and Flett both have extensive criminal records for assault, assault of police officers, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. In fact, they’ve been convicted of several violent attacks that left their victims hospitalized. Guimond also had varying degrees of involvement in several killings in Winnipeg.
A history of gang violence
In December 1997, Food Fare store employee Jeff Giles, 22, was shot in the face and killed by Indian Posse street gang thugs during a robbery attempt. Michael Guimond’s brother, Norman Guimond, was one of several thugs convicted in the killing. Michael Guimond was charged, convicted and subsequently acquitted for uttering threats to the Giles family.
In May 2000, Guimond was involved in the brutal gang related killing of Adrian Scott Bruyere, 19, who was stabbed and beaten to death after he was caught “slippin” on IP turf. Bruyere’s brother and best friend were stabbed and beaten during the attack.
Guimond was originally charged with 1st degree murder but was the benefactor of a plea bargain arrangement that saw him plead out to a charge of assault causing bodily harm. He subsequently received an 18-month conditional sentence. (The primary killer in the case was convicted of manslaughter and was later killed in prison.)
In May 2006, Guimond and two others were charged with 2nd degree murder in connection with the New Year’s Eve shooting death of Ryan Neufeld, 20. The case fell apart before it could go to trial and the charges were dropped.
The Crown was represented by Senior Crown Attorney Brent Davidson, an experienced litigator who specializes in gang crime. Davidson argued both offenders were deserving of life sentences for their involvement in Bruce’s killing.
In doing so, he emphasized the need to protect the public and to deter and denounce violent crime. Davidson stressed the youthful age of the victim should be considered an aggravated factor for sentencing. He recommended consecutive five (5) year sentences for the participation in criminal organization charges.
Guimond was represented by experienced criminal defense attorney Mr. Darren Sawchuk, a man I’ve locked horns with during many criminal trials.
Sawchuk asked the court to consider a sentence of four years for the manslaughter charge and one year consecutive for the criminal organization charge.
Flett was represented by capable criminal defense attorney Sara Inness. Inness asked the court to consider a sentence of seven to eight years on the manslaughter charge and one year consecutive for the criminal organization charge.
Both lawyers asked for the offenders to receive dead time credit of 1.5 for every one day served in pre-trial custody.
Judge Corrin painstakingly reviewed the specifics of the case in excruciating detail while delivering the sentence. The pace of the proceedings prompted Winnipeg Free Press crime reporter Mike McIntyre to tweet:
As the proceedings approached the apex, Corrin delved into the often controversial Gladue sentencing principles. Gladue principles are race based sentencing considerations designed to recognize the plight of Aboriginal people and the many issues they face in Canadian society and criminal justice.
Issues like racism, discrimination and over-representation in crime, gangs, prison and child welfare systems. Social issues like physical or sexual abuse, child welfare removal, substance abuse, FASD, health and developmental issues and the effects of residential schools.
Corrin artfully dismissed the idea of providing the accused killers any benefit of a reduced sentence courtesy of the Gladue principles, indicating the crime was about the “…unscrupulous pursuit of easy money.”
Corrin said, “This case was about anti-social, predatory gang violence. The accused were protecting their little cash cow, the crack shack, from falling into the hands of a rival gang.”
Corrin called the offenders “hardened criminals” and made a distinction between young impressionable gang members and “mature adult gang associated offenders.” He suggested there was no practical connection between Gladue factors and the conscious choice of mature adults to participate in a sophisticated, profitable drug trafficking business.
He then proceeded to sentence Guimond to nine years for manslaughter and three years consecutive for the criminal organization charge.
Flett was determined to have a higher degree of involvement in the killing and was sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter and three years consecutive for the criminal organization charge.
Both offenders received approximately three year sentence reductions for pre-trial time in custody after receiving the 1.5 – 1 credit.
Was the Crown overreaching by requesting life sentences?
It was clear from the decision Judge Corrin never gave serious consideration to sentencing Guimond or Flett to life sentences, rather he chose to rely on sentencing principles previously articulated in other manslaughter cases.
Yet, Guimond and Flett represent the absolute worst kind of offender in criminal justice. Committed, hard-core gangster criminals responsible for destroying young lives by violence or by conscription into street gangs. Long time card-carrying members of the most violent criminal street gang in the City of Winnipeg. Remorseless killers who traffic in despair, sacrifice the safety of our communities and target their own people for destruction.
If not them, who might deserve a life sentence?
I urge you to resist the temptation to place a value judgement on the victim in this case. Some may express the opinion he got what he deserved by virtue of his participation in a rival street gang.
I’ve met dozens of these kids and have been shocked at how impressionable and vulnerable they are to the influence and control of older gang members. We call these kids “child soldiers.”
Paris Bruce was typical of many Aboriginal teenaged kids who get sucked into the gang life by older recruiters who convert them into child soldiers. Disposable kids who are often assaulted, intimidated and brutalized by older gang members in their pursuit of cash and control of turf. Young men who do the gang’s heavy lifting, guarding crack shacks, slinging drugs, participating in assaults, drive by shootings and murders. For them, the road almost always ends in the morgue or in a 4′ x 8′ jail cell.
Once they’re up on murder charges they invariably find themselves sitting alone in the prisoners box; the courtroom void of the pretenders who promised them solidarity, loyalty and the unbreakable bond of brotherhood. When the consequences comes down, these kids ultimately find themselves alone. It’s a reality underlined by Senior Crown Attorney Carla Dewar during an IP gangster’s sentencing hearing:
“This case illustrates exactly what happens when a gang turns on itself. This should send a message to all gang members. Do not trust anyone, even each other. The boys you think are your bro’s will throw you to the wolves in a second.”
It’s called the false promise of gang life.