Brandon Carl Huth has been sentenced to two years less a day plus three years probation for the manslaughter of Shawnigan Lake’s Tyler Noble in downtown Victoria on Nov. 26, 2011.
In just over one minute, the two young men who had never met and who had both been drinking, engaged in a brief but fatal argument outside the McDonald’s at Douglas and View streets. Huth, who was 24, struck Noble with a single blow to the head. Noble immediately fell backwards, striking his head on the sidewalk. The 20-year-old died in hospital a few hours later from blunt-force head injuries.
In his judgment on Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Macaulay sent a message to young people that alcohol-fuelled aggression on city streets after bar closing is unacceptable.
"The liquor intake by both Huth and Noble played a significant role in these unfortunate events," Macaulay told the courtroom filled with Noble’s family and his many friends.
"I doubt that the altercation or the blow would have occurred but for the lack of inhibition or control that too frequently occurs when young men consume alcohol to excess. I also doubt that death would have ensued from the blow if Noble had not struck his head on the sidewalk."
Huth, standing alone in the prisoner’s dock, did not react when his sentence was imposed. Although the defence had asked the court to impose a suspended sentence to allow Huth to care for his ill father, Macaulay did not accept that Huth’s personal circumstances warranted one.
"I am satisfied that general deterrence and denunciation require me to impose a jail sentence," Macaulay said.
The judge gave Huth credit for 10 days pretrial custody, meaning Huth must serve a sentence of two years less 11 days.
Macaulay will ask the authorities to allow Huth to serve his sentence at the Brannen Lake facility on Vancouver Island to be closer to his father.
One of the painful ironies in the case, Macaulay said, is that both young men were accomplished athletes, gainfully employed, with many admirable personal qualities.
The judge acknowledged the loss the Noble family has suffered. Tyler’s mother, Laurie, continues to live with horror, agony, emptiness, despair and confusion, the judge said. His sister, Samantha, now an only child, experiences overwhelming grief.
Macaulay acknowledged the strength of Noble’s father, Ken, when he read a haunting victim impact statement aloud in court last week.
The judge called Huth a young man of good morals and values.
"He is a good son, good to his friends and associates and prepared to assist others as needed," Macaulay said.
"I would go one step further: Huth’s willingness to help without question likely motivated his agreeing to the request to help deal with Noble, who was very drunk and argumentative. Unfortunately, Huth had also been drinking and his judgment as to how to intercede was undoubtedly impaired."
Macaulay emphasized that Noble’s death was not an accident or even close to one.
"Tyler Noble died as a result of a single, intentional forceful blow that Huth delivered when he should not have done so. It was not a consensual fight. It was not a case of self-defence."
Macaulay accepted that Huth is remorseful and has excellent prospects for rehabilitation. "It’s hard for us," said Shayne Stewart, Tyler’s lifelong friend, outside court. "But at the end of the day, nothing’s going to bring Tyler back."
"The positive thing is we can move on from here now. We can get on with our lives….And Brandon will have to live with it for the next five years."
Macaulay imposed a lifetime weapons prohibition. Huth has been ordered to give a sample of his DNA and to perform 240 hours of community work service in the first 18 months of his probation.