Five years for homicide by sword

A Flin Flon man found guilty of manslaughter in a 2012 homicide involving a samurai sword has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Mitchell Whitbread, 28, appeared in court in The Pas for sentencing on Monday. Barring an appeal, he was to be held in custody in The Pas until being transferred to an unnamed federal institution to serve his sentence.

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Whitbread was found guilty of manslaughter, which denotes no intent to kill, in 2015. He was initially charged with second-degree murder, which denotes intent to kill, in the death of fellow Flin Flon resident John (Kelli) Eyres. He pleaded not guilty.

A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, but the Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the Crown sought up to eight years for Whitbread. Whitbread’s lawyer, Greg Brodsky, wanted a non-custodial sentence.

Eyres died in May 2012 after being wounded by a collectable samurai sword outside Whitbread's Flin Flon home. Brodsky argued the death was unintentional and that Whitbread used the weapon to try and scare off Eyres, whom he perceived as an intruder.

According to the Free Press, court heard Eyres, a married father of three young children, was drunk and apparently looking to warm up when he began banging on the door of Whitbread's home and tried to use his shoulder to open it.

At the sentencing, Crown attorney Brian Wilford referred to Eyres as “a good solid family man,” the newspaper reported. Whitbread told the victim’s family he was sorry, the Free Press said.

The Reminder will have more on the sentence in our print edition Wednesday.

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