The day after admitting he killed a woman and dumped her body on a rural road, a St. Catharines, Ont., man was released from jail.
Judge Stephen Glithero sentenced Wayne Ryczak, 55, to one day in jail on Thursday for the death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.
The one-day sentence is in addition to time Ryczak already served since his March 5, 2007, arrest — time the judge said was equivalent to 30 months.
“Devastated, we’re devastated,” Beck’s mother, Alice Dort, said from her home in Nova Scotia shortly after a police detective broke the news by phone. “This is just so unbelievable.” “There’s no justice. None whatsoever. I’m just so disgusted.”
The Crown asked for seven to 10 years in jail.
Ryczak’s lawyer requested two years less a day to be served in the community.
After deliberating for 20 minutes, Glithero said a 30-month sentence in the penitentiary would be appropriate and Ryczak had already served it. Ryczak was also given three years’ probation.
Exactly what I needed to wake up to. Thanks, Canada!
This is fucking disgusting. A 30-month sentence is appropriate for killing a woman? Sure, if she has sex for money! After all, if you ladies happen to think you can do whatever you want with that vagina of yours, you deserve whatever it is that you get.
Fuck, I am so angry.
Update 05/17 (matttbastard): Ontario NDP Calls for Ontario AG to appeal 1 day sentence:
The Ontario NDP is calling on the attorney general to appeal the one-day sentence of a St. Catharines, Ont. man who plead guilty this week to manslaughter in the strangling death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.
New Democratic Party Justice Critic Peter Kormos, in an open letter to Attorney General Chris Bentley, called on the province to ensure the sentence is appealed immediately.
“I tell you, sir, that the community is outraged,” Kormos wrote in his letter. “How can this sentence of one day, and it can barely be called a sentence, be justified?”
h/t pale via IM
Update 2 (matttbastard): From The St Catharines Standard:
“They just dismissed [Stephine Beck's] life with that sentence,” said Dee Holman, a member of the community’s sex-trade task force. “They minimized her death.”
Holman said the sentencing made Ryczak appear to be the victim and minimized his use of drugs and prostitutes.
“(Beck) will never have a chance to get her drug and alcohol counselling,” Holman said. “Her life is gone.”
In sentencing Ryczak Thursday, Judge Stephen Glithero said he was not measuring the value of Beck’s life. “All life is valuable to us as a community,” he said.
He noted there were people in the courtroom for Wednesday’s plea hearing wearing T-shirts that read, “Sex work shouldn’t equal murder.”
“This was not a case whatsoever of anyone preying on a sex-trade worker,” Glithero said.
But Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, which is in favour of legalizing prostitution, said a victim’s lifestyle is factored into court decisions.
“It happens all the time,” she said. “The laws against sex work continue to tell people that we’re disposable. It’s OK to kill us and murder us.”
The Ryczak sentencing puts the “gold seal of approval” on those actions, she said.
“If this were anyone else, it wouldn’t have gone down like that in court.”
Update 3 05/18 (matttbastard): Via ange @ light my heart on fire (all emphases mine):
Unfortunately, the case of Stephine Beck is not an anomaly. Within the last decade, six other women involved in sex work and living with substance abuse problems have been found murdered in the Niagara Region: Dawn Stewart, 32; Nadine Gurczenski, 26; Diane Dimitri, 33; Margaret Jugaru, 26; Cassey Cichocki, 22, and most recently, Shari Bacon, 36. Although the Niagara Regional Police convened a task force in 2007 and have since made one other arrest, Glithero’s sentence is reflective of a community-wide failure to value and protect the lives of some of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The St. Catharines Standard routinely runs articles about “hookers loyal to their drug problems” (6 March, 2007) while the police department justifies its regular sweeping arrests of prostitutes (and subsequent public naming in The Standard, which does not report the names of men arrested for domestic abuse) by claiming that if you take away the supply, demand will vanish (July 2007). This appalling disdain for and ignorance of the realities and risks faced by sex workers is all the more horrifying when compared to the hysteria and moral outrage expressed by the entire Niagara community during and after the arrests, trials and verdicts of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. That Homolka’s plea bargain was considered a deal with the devil while Ryczak was set free immediately upon pleading guilty is shameful and hypocritical, and reflects a clear double standard when it comes to which lives are valued and which are not.