As Doug Presseau’s killer was stabbing him in the chest on a Chilliwack street five years ago, the man yelled “Why won’t you f—-ing die!?”
Kirkland Russell stabbed the Good Samaritan a total of 14 times on July 7, 2017.
Presseau had come to the aid of Russell’s girlfriend, Bobbi Burris, who herself had somehow been stabbed. That’s when Russell turned on Presseau and killed him.
Minutes prior to Presseau’s stabbing, another man, Steven Drage, was killed by a knife attack near Russell and his friends. No witnesses saw the attack so no one was ever charged in the case.
A serious and violent prolific offender, Russell’s extreme drunkenness that night was considered a factor diminishing his intent, which took second-degree murder off the table. Russell pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years behind bars, a shocking slap in the face to Presseau’s mother, Barbara Presseau.
“Our grief over the loss of our beloved Doug is now compounded with this shocking injustice,” she said after the March 2019 sentencing.
That shock and grief has been compounded even further in 2022 as Barbara learned about two elements of criminal sentences in B.C. that many people may not know about. Namely, credit for time served and statutory release.
In all but the most serious of cases, offenders housed at places such as the Surrey Pre-trial Centre are given credit for time served leading up to their conviction at a rate of 1.5 days to one. So, in the case of Kirkland Russell, he served 594 days, or one year and 229 days, in pre-trial custody. So subtracted from his eight-year sentence was 891 days, or two years and 161 days.
“I really have trouble with that concept,” Presseau told me recently.
So why is that the case? In part because pre-trial custody centres do not offer programming to help offenders like prisons do, but also because they are no fun. Conditions at these places are said to be terrible.
Presseau is unsympathetic.
“I’m like ‘wah, wah,’ Really? What about the conditions for us? That he gets out earlier is a gift.
“Accumulation of time-and-a-half is very frustrating to me and I think it’s very disrespectful to the victims and the survivors.”
The other element of criminal justice sentencing that many people who have no contact with the system may be unaware of, and somewhat related to the first, is statutory release. Unless sentenced to life in prison or labelled a dangerous or long-term offender, no criminals spend even close to the sentence they receive behind bars.
After two-thirds of every sentence handed down whether it is for sexual assault, robbery or manslaughter, offenders are released into the community to serve the final third of their sentence.
“Statutory release is a mandatory release by law,” according to VictimsInfo.ca, an online resource website for victims of crime in B.C. “Offenders on statutory release are required to follow standard conditions that include reporting to a parole officer, remaining within geographic boundaries, and obeying the law and keeping the peace.”
Like being on parole (or bail), violations could mean the offender is returned to jail, but this rarely happens. One of the reasons offenders received credit of 1.5-to-one in pretrial custody, is because of statutory release.
No one official tells the media when an offender is out on statutory release, but arithmetic isn’t hard and I did some. Russell was sentenced to 2,030 more days in jail on March 6, 2019, which means statutory release should come after 1,353 days. So 365 days to March 2020, 730 to 2021, and 1,095 to 2022. Add up the rest and subtract a day for a leap year, and I think he’ll be out on Nov. 19.
“I can’t believe how short these sentences end up being,” Barbara said.
Russell had more than 50 convictions to his name before he killed Doug Presseau yet he will be back on the streets in just a few weeks.
“People need to know that there are offenders on our street that have been assessed high risk for violence and high risk for sexual abuse,” Barbara said. “They are walking on our streets right now and there will be another one in November. That is not OK.”
She is advocating for change in the criminal justice system to better protect all of us from repeat violent offenders who are treated with kid gloves in British Columbia. Nowhere else in the country are violent offenders handed such low sentences or released on bail as easily.
Barbara wants people to know how offenders and victims are treated in our system, and she wants people to help her try to change things.
”Everybody is outraged on Facebook. Complaining on Facebook might feel good, but it won’t get you anywhere. Write your provincial and federal attorneys-general.
“If I do nothing, nothing will change.”
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.