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Botting's client receives minimum sentence for murder

published February 27, 2018

A British Columbia teen originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother — and facing life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 25 years — will serve only 10 years before he is able to apply for release, says his counsel, Vancouver criminal and appellate lawyer Gary Botting.

“This case is a cautionary tale about the dangers of mixing steroids, growth hormones and cocaine,” Botting tells AdvocateDaily.

Botting was able to convince the Crown and the court that even though the man made comments to friends about murdering his mom for “inheritance” money, he, in fact, had no genuine intention to kill her and was under the influence of a potent combination of chemicals when he did. As a result, the man received the minimum sentence for second-degree murder.

The man was 19 when he asphyxiated his mother in a steroid-induced rage, then arranged her body in the family garage with a rope around her neck to create an impression that she’d committed suicide, says Botting, principal of Gary N. A. Botting, Barrister and Solicitor, which serves Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

“People were complaining that someone who murdered his mother would only get a 10-year-sentence,” he says.

But that was the right result in this case, Botting adds.

The suicide staging in the garage was more theatrical than realistic, and was not evidence of any plan to get away with murder, he says.

“If the murder had been planned and deliberate he would have had an exit strategy,” the lawyer says. Instead, the man left his car parked outside his mom’s house and was later hanging out with friends at a nearby Tim Horton’s when her body was found.

His 51-year-old mother came from a Mennonite background and was a deeply religious and meticulous person, Botting says. She and her son argued frequently about his lifestyle.

When he was kicked out of the house at age 16, he was a slight teenager who was often bullied, the lawyer says. He moved in with his older brother, who was into bodybuilding, and the younger sibling decided to follow in his footsteps.

As a teen, he began taking steroids and human growth hormones to build up his muscle mass, along with large amounts of caffeine to activate the steroids, Botting says. The caffeine was soon supplemented with cocaine, and this combination of potent drugs had a devastating effect on him. “He’s an extremely polite kid when he’s not on drugs,” he says.

“I was able to find articles that showed there is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect from mixing steroids and cocaine. He would have been out of his mind, wouldn’t know what he was doing — not to the extent of being not criminally responsible, just to the extent that he wasn’t planning anything.”

When the man arrived at his mother’s home, high on cocaine and steroids, on Feb. 24, 2016, the two had an argument that quickly got out of hand, Botting says.

The young man asphyxiated her by covering her nose and mouth with his hand, but does not remember doing so, according to the agreed statement of facts. While still under the influence of drugs, he attempted to disguise what had happened by moving his mother’s body to the garage, placing a noose around her neck, stabbing her in the neck and placing the knife in her hand, the lawyer explains.

“He wasn’t thinking straight at all,” Botting says. “It’s one of those cases that sounds horrific, and in retrospect, it’s always horrific, but it’s one where he was just a teenager, he had no criminal record at all and … the Crown can be reasonable sometimes.”

Botting says he sees a good deal of hope for the man’s future. “His whole life is ahead of him, and there is every hope that he will stay away from steroids and other chemicals from now on.”