The killing of Calgary chef Christophe Herblin was a shock to residents of this city and a horrifically tragic event for his family.
No one ever deserves to die at the hands of another, but some homicides just seem more senseless than most and his certainly fits that description.
Two men looking for a score by breaking into Herblin’s under-construction bistro weren’t even interested in anything within the four walls of the soon-to-open restaurant.
Instead, Anthony Dodgson and Tommie Holloway were trying to gain access to an adjacent cannabis shop in the Bow Tr. S.W. strip mall in which the chef hoped to fulfil his dream of opening up his own business.
But Herblin inadvertently thwarted that plan when he responded to an alarm triggered by the March 14, 2020 break-in and his decision to remain for hours after unknowingly scaring off the bandits.
Dodgson, Holloway and a female accomplice protected by a publication ban drove around for hours before returning to the scene, only to find Herblin’s car still there.
Holloway jumped out and smashed the windshield and driver’s-side window of the chef’s car in order to lure him outside so Dodgson could somehow disable him.
And it was an accepted fact that jurors, who convicted Holloway of manslaughter, while finding Dodgson guilty of second-degree murder, found Holloway did not know his accomplice would fatally stab Herblin after he damaged his car and fled the scene on foot.
Holloway was in court last week for Crown and defence lawyers to argue over an appropriate punishment, something Justice Blair Nixon must still decide upon.
As is common practice in sentencing matters, Holloway was given an opportunity to address the court once the lawyers were done.
In the majority of cases, offenders will take this opportunity to offer some sort of apology to their victims.
Some seem rather self-serving, while others, although likely sincere, come across as more regret for the predicament offenders find themselves in rather than a deep sorrow for what they’ve done.
After all, criminals rarely consider the consequences of their conduct on their victims before they partake in unlawful activity.
But the words spoken by Holloway in court had a ring of truth rarely found in such circumstances.
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“The people that should be hearing what I have to say today, they’re not here,” Holloway said of the fact Herblin’s family did not attend the sentencing hearing.
“I know it would mean more to me if they were here today. I wish they were here today so I could apologize for my actions, my reckless actions.”
Like many Indigenous members of our community, Holloway is familiar with sudden loss of someone close to him, in his case his sister.
“I know how it feels to lose a loved one close to you. And that pain, that hurt, it’s not gonna go away overnight,” he said, struggling to find the right words to express his feelings.
“I just hope that this message gets to them and they know that I’m deeply sorry.”
And unlike most offenders, Holloway not only expressed feelings of remorse, but he discussed the impact his and Dodgson’s crime had on Herblin’s survivors.
“When Ms. (Carla) MacPhail read out the victim impact statements, I could tell you that it got to me,” he said of the lead Crown prosecutor in the case.
Often pausing during his more than seven-minute address, Holloway genuinely seemed to be searching for the right words to express his feelings.
His words may not have comforted Herblin’s loved ones had they been present to hear them.
But at the very least society can take some solace in the fact Holloway knows what he did was horribly wrong, is deeply remorseful and his criminal conduct profoundly impacted innocent lives.
On Twitter: @KMartinCourts
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