As he stood and turned in court to face the family and friends of a man he helped kill in a Surrey drug house six years ago, Steven Patrick Iyoupe’s face reddened and his chin quivered slightly.
“I’m terribly sorry for my actions,” the broad-shouldered man said from the prisoner’s box. “I man up and I take full responsibility for my actions.
“I’m going to be a man and take my beatings. I’m forever in your debt – 100 per cent,” he told Harder’s friends and family, at least one of whom cried aloud in response.
Iyoupe, 27, was convicted of manslaughter in November for the beating death of 45-year-old Garry Glenn Harder. On Friday in New Westminster Supreme Court, Justice Ronald McKinnon sentenced Iyoupe to 15 years in prison for his role in the murder. With credit for time already served, 11-and-a-half years of Iyoupe’s sentence remains.
Police said Harder, a professional kickboxer who got involved in the drug trade, had left a crack shack in Surrey in January 2006 with money that wasn’t his.
The theft was reported to the dealers who ran the drug house and Harder was picked up and taken back to the house where police said he was met by a group who “repeatedly and horrifically” beat and tortured him over several hours.
His body was found lying in a ditch near 144 Street and 103A Avenue. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Crown prosecutor Crichton Pike had asked for a jail sentence between 15 and 18 years.
Defence lawyer John Banks did not specify a preferred sentence, but asked that McKinnon consider Iyoupe’s potential for rehabilitation, his young age and the fact he will one day be out of prison and part of the community.
“Mr. Iyoupe has embarked on a course of separating himself from his old lifestyle,” said Banks.
Iyoupe is one of four people convicted in the fatal beating. Three other people were arrested in May of 2008 in connection with Harder’s murder.
William Thomas Walker of Langley was convicted of forcible confinement and aggravated assault and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Lauretta Marie Stevens of Surrey was convicted of unlawful confinement and assault with a weapon and given three years.
Five days after Walker’s and Stevens’ arrests, Jordon Vojkovic of Calgary was arrested in Alberta and returned to Surrey to stand trial. He was convicted of unlawful confinement and manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Iyoupe wasn’t arrested until April 2010. Police said they always knew a fourth person was involved, but it took two more years to assemble enough evidence to have charges approved by the Crown prosecutor’s office.