Youth sentence overturned, man gets life for 2013 murder
A FORMER gang associate who shot a 20-year-old man in the back for no apparent reason has been sentenced to life in prison after Manitoba’s highest court overturned his seven-year youth sentence and ordered he be sent to prison as an adult.
Anthony James Nick McClements was 17 when he shot Nigel Dixon in the middle of the afternoon on April 2, 2013. The bullet killed Dixon and seriously injured his stepsister, Samantha Meekis, who had been walking in front of him.
The victims and their friends weren’t part of a gang — and that’s what they told members of the Mad Cowz street gang who surrounded them in a residential back lane in Winnipeg’s downtown.
Dixon and his friends were on their way to play pool that afternoon. They didn’t have gang affiliations — Meekis told the Mad Cowz they were from “the rez.”
While gang members retreated to let the other group pass, single file through the back lane, McClements followed Dixon’s group, even though other members of the gang told him not to. He pulled out a 9-mm handgun and fired four or five shots at Dixon. Two of the bullets hit Meekis.
After McClements pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2015, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Colleen Suche dismissed the Crown’s request to have him sentenced as an adult. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the maximum youth sentence for seconddegree murder is seven years, with four of those spent in custody and three on community supervision.
That had been McClements’ punishment, until the Crown argued its case at the Court of Appeal.
In a decision issued Monday, the appeal court ruled Suche made several mistakes in her decision not to sentence McClements as an adult. Suche had considered McClements, who was nearly 18 at the time of the shooting, mature beyond his years and with no cognitive difficulties, but the appeal court decided she didn’t properly consider the level of accountability McClements should bear for the shooting.
Despite describing the shooting as “inexplicable,” Suche had noted McClements had no previous criminal record and wrote in her decision “he is a serious and hardworking student and academically has accomplished a great deal.”
“These errors were material, in that they impacted the sentence in more than just an incidental way. Given his high degree of moral blameworthiness, a youth sentence would not be sufficient in length to hold the respondent accountable for the shocking murder of Nigel Dixon,” Court of Appeal Justice Barbara Hamilton wrote in the decision, also signed by justices Holly Beard and Jennifer Pfuetzner.
The appeal court imposed a new life sentence on McClements. In this case, Hamilton wrote, the maximum youth sentence was “simply not long enough to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the respondent’s role in it.”
The youth sentence for 17-year-old Anthony McClements was overturned by the Court of Appeal.