In a highly negotiated joint submission by the Crown and defence, Steffin Rees has been sentenced to 15 years with no chance of parole for 7.5 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the stabbing death of Preston Pellerin.
Justice Dan Cornell called Pellerin’s murder “senseless and tragic,” in handing down the sentence earlier today. He said Pellerin’s family played a significant role in putting together the pre-sentence report that suggested the sentence Rees now faces.
Pellerin’s family showed a “significant amount of mercy” in allowing Rees to plead guilty to a downgraded charge of manslaughter instead of the murder charge he originally faced, said Cornell.
Rees is being given pre-custody credit of 1.5 days for every day he has been in custody since his arrest in November 2019. That means he will only serve 12.25 years in jail and will be eligible for parole in 4.75 years. He is also to submit a DNA sample, is prohibited from possessing weapons for 10 years after he is released and is to have no contact with three members of Pellerin’s family while incarcerated.
The presentence report, said Cornell, shows Rees had a difficult and troubled upbringing with a dysfunctional family. He was in and out of the Children’s Aid Society and witnessed violence and alcoholism as a child. Rees suffers from depression and anxiety and has attempted to take his own life on several occasions.
“It’s fair to say you were unloved,” Cornell said. “But that’s no excuse for taking a person’s life. You did more than that, though. You took away all of Preston’s opportunities in life … to get married, to have children, all of that is gone.”
Pellerin’s family and friends provided victim impact statements prior to sentencing. They said Pellerin was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and beat it, but it changed who he was.
His parents, Kevin and Courtney Pellerin, told the court no parent should have to bury their child.
Kevin Pellerin said his son’s death has changed his life forever and there are “no words to describe the pain (Rees has) caused.”
Courtney Pellerin said Rees took her son from her and that she feels she failed her son.
She said her son struggled through his short life, but he had ways of making people feel special and loved.
“My heart will forever be broken,” she said in her victim impact statement.
In response, Justice Cornell said if anything, he is sure of one thing -- she did not fail her son.
“That is simply not true,” Cornell said. “You did your best. You provided a loving home. No one can protect our children from all dangers. Preston made his own choices, some may not have been the right choices, but they were his choices.”
In addressing Rees after handing down the sentence, Cornell told him he’s hopeful that, when he is released, he won’t make the same mistakes.
“I wish you the best as you go forward and that you never forget what has transpired here today,” said Cornell.
Rees told the court he apologizes and takes full responsibility for his actions, and that he will take all counselling available to him.
“I will prove I can be a functional member of society,” Rees said.