Swift justice was carried out Friday at the Moose Jaw Court of Queen’s Bench, as Tony Lawrence Warken was sentenced to six years less time served for manslaughter in relation to the Nov. 1, 2009, death of Gordon Gregson.
Both Crown prosecutor Rob Parker and legal aid for Warken, Merv Shaw, were seeking a sentence between six and eight years; with the former aiming for eight and the latter for six.
“Six to eight years would be appropriate, frankly. There’s the absence of a previous criminal record, with just one conviction for impaired driving and it’s dated; he can be treated like an individual without a prior,” Parker said, during his opening statement to Chief Justice Martel Popescul and the court.
Parker and Shaw presented a series of similar cases that have appeared before the court in the last 20 years.
This was done to help frame and offer consideration towards Warken’s sentencing.
The prior cases were similar in nature, due to being manslaughter charges where the victim and defendant knew one another before the crime was committed. In most cases the sentencing was between six and eight years.
Warken was found guilty of manslaughter May 18 following a jury trial. Both men were residents of Bengough, with the death occurring in Gregson’s home.
Warken was the only other person at the scene, and due to the evidence presented by pathologist Dr. Elizabeth Brooks-Lin and a videotaped confession acquired by the RCMP; the eight woman, four man jury pronounced Warken guilty.
“He said Gregson was his best friend,” Shaw mentioned in his opening statements. “they drank together and were drinking together the day of Gregson’s death ... Mr. Warken cannot believe he caused the death of his best friend.”
Warken declared throughout the trial he was, in fact, an alcoholic, and blamed that for not being able to accurately remember the accounts leading up to Gregson’s death.
Considerations towards Warken’s age of 67, poor health and employment were factors in deciding his sentence.
Time served during the investigation and trial was also a factor, and the fact Warken missed his preliminary hearing, “unfortunately due to his alcoholism,” Shaw said.
“He breached ... so I can only offer 1 to 1 credit towards sentencing,” Chief Justice Popescul stated, in relation to what credit the court can give towards time already being served while in custody.
“I’m sorry my friend is dead, but in my heart and mind I don’t remember what happened,” Warken said when Popescul asked if he had anything to say before sentencing.
“Manslaughter can have a wide range of circumstances, you have been found guilty of taking the life of another human being and deserve a sentence. I determine an appropriate sentence is six years in a penitentiary,” Popescul stated.
With time served being deducted from the six year sentence, Warken is left with five years, one month and 12 days on his sentence.
Cole Carruthers can be reached at 691-1258.