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Judge renders tough sentence for killers of innocent victim

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A Montreal judge had tough words and a tough sentence for the last two of four men who were convicted in the 2005 murder of a young Lasalle man who was mistaken for a rival street gang member.

Justice Michael Stober sentenced John Tshiamala to 15 years in prison and Evens Belleville, 14 years, for their roles in the death of 25-year-old Raymond Ellis.

The former Dawson College student and entrepreneur was swarmed at the Aria after hours club October 23, 2005 by as many as 30 people who punched, kicked and stabbed him to death.

With time in preventive custody served,Tshiamala, 28, will have four years and seven months left to go in prison while Belleville will have three years and five months left to go.

It was a much harsher sentence than what the crown had asked for: prosecutor David Simon asked for global sentences of 12 years for Tshiamala and 11 years for Belleville, leaving the two accused with two years and one year left to serve.

Ellis' parents and two sisters were present for the sentencing. Joyce and Raphael Ellis held hands tightly as the judge handed down the sentence for their son's killers.

"Oh God, one night I hope we will be able to sleep," Joyce Ellis told reporters.

This was the second trial the family had to go through since the first was aborted after a stay of proceedings in 2009. A new trial was ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal two years later.

Tshiamala and Belleville were found guilty of manslaughter while two other accused pleaded guilty to manslaughter. A fifth man was acquitted.

Stober said Canada, Quebec and Montreal welcomed Tshiamala and Belleville with open arms, acknowledging that the two men, who immigrated as teens from the Congo and Haiti respectively, went through misfortune and bad experiences in their home countries.

But the judge said "they should not be used as a shield of excuses and justification ad infinitum for crimes in their new country," adding that they must be responsible for their actions and not hide behind their past. Stober said the two men had all the advantages of a Canadian citizen and their misfortunes in their home countries should not be used as excuses for their actions, calling the crime a "savage attack" of "great brutality."

Raymond's sister Patricia welcomed the judge's words.

"That was profound, you have a choice to do good and to do evil," Patricia Ellis said, adding the difference between the families of the accused and her family, who immigrated from Jamaica, is their solid network of support.

"My parents have always instilled in us that we are citizens, that we have an obligation to live a right life in the country that you are residing."

Raymond's mother Joyce also took comfort in the judge's declarations.

"You have all the freedom here. You come from wherever you want to come from or you're born here, there's no need for this kind of killing," Joyce Ellis told reporters.

Tshiamala submitted a letter just before sentencing, apologizing and expressing how he and his family have been affected and how he'd like to be helped.

Stober dismissed the letter, calling it a last minute and insincere attempt for leniency that mentions nothing about his actions of 2005.

The two accused, sitting in a glassed-in prisoner's box, remained emotionless throughout the sentencing.

Raymond's father Raphael Ellis said while they're happy with the sentence....

"It still doesn't bring our son back but with this decision today, it will give us a chance to try and move on."

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