Two Greater Victoria men convicted in a fatal hammer attack on a friend in 2018 were sentenced to six years each in prison Friday.
Lee Hart, 40, and Nathen Monsour, 34, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Shawn Campbell earlier this year, after original second-degree murder charges were reduced.
The sentencing by Judge Lisa Mrozinski was based on an agreed statement of facts, pre-sentence reports on the two men, and statements made by both the men and loved ones of Campbell.
In September 2018, Monsour and Campbell were good friends, the court found. Their friendship quickly soured, however, after Campbell, 41, allegedly assaulted his wife Amanda MacDonald on Sept. 25 and went to go live with a friend named Neil Albrecht in Saanich.
When Campbell later heard MacDonald had dinner with Monsour and a number of other people, he grew jealous and began to suspect a romantic relationship between his friend and estranged wife, the court heard. Campbell’s suspicions escalated when MacDonald broke her leg and was visited several times by Monsour while in hospital. Campbell subsequently damaged Monsour’s truck and Sooke apartment.
When Monsour discovered the damage on Sept. 29 around noon, he went to Sooke RCMP to report it and then to West Shore RCMP to ask that they investigate it. Monsour was told it was under Sooke RCMP’s jurisdiction, at which point he sought out his friends Brian Dark and Lee Hart to tell them about the alleged assault and damage to his property. Together that day they drove to Victoria General Hospital to see MacDonald and take photos of bruising on her face from the alleged assault.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the three men drove from the hospital to Albrecht’s residence on Carey Road in Saanich where they believed they would find Campbell. Just after 3 p.m., they arrived at the residence and, spotting Campbell in the driveway, Monsour and Hart exited their truck and ran toward him armed with hammers.
Finding him unarmed, Monsour and Hart proceeded to attack Campbell, taking him to the ground where they delivered hammer blows to the back of his head and just above his right eye. Albrecht, who was outside nearby, testified that at one point during the attack he heard what sounded like “the crack of the bone splitting” and someone say “That’s what you get for beating your wife.”
When Albrecht attempted to intervene, Hart swung his hammer at him bruising his chest. Convicted of assault with a weapon for that part of the incident, Hart was on Friday handed a nine-month sentence to be served concurrently with his six-year manslaughter sentence.
Once Campbell was unconscious on the ground, the court heard, Monsour and Hart returned to their truck along with Dark, who had stood by during the attack. They drove back to Monsour’s Sooke residence, wiping, cleaning and discarding their hammers along the way.
Albrecht attempted first aid on Campbell and called 911, but Campbell was declared brain dead and was taken off life support five days later.
Monsour and Hart were arrested the same day, but were released until they were officially charged in March 2020.
In pre-sentence reports, the court heard Monsour had a turbulent childhood characterized by his mother’s substance abuse and his time in foster care, while Hart had an uneventful upbringing except for one instance as a child when he was found in a hotel room with a sexual predator. Hart also has a history of criminal activity and drug use.
In statements made in court Nov. 3, both men expressed sincere remorse for their actions, Judge Mrozinski found. She said their guilty pleas, cooperation and family support were all indicators that rehabilitation is possible. She also took a Gladue report into consideration for Monsour, who self-identifies as Metis.
Crown argued for seven- to eight-year sentences for the men; Hart’s lawyer argued for four and-a-half years followed by three years probation, Monsour’s lawyer asked for four years. In the end, Mrozinski took the middle ground, issuing six-year sentences for both, minus time they have already served.
Monsour will serve another five years and 221 days, while Hart will serve another three years and 170 days. Both men are restricted from having firearms for 10 years following their release and Monsour has been prohibited from communicating with a number of Campbell’s loved ones.
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