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Three year sentence for killing man mistaken for a pedophile

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A 21-year-old Montreal man has been sentenced to three years in prison after killing a Verdun father he thought was a pedophile.

Francis Bélanger was handcuffed in front of his family and friends and led into the prisoner's box after the judge pronounced her sentence.

Bélanger pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Iqbal Ahmed in April 2011 in Verdun. Ahmed, who was in his 50's, had followed his daughter and her friends, thinking she was going out without permission. The friends told others they were meeting that Ahmed was a pedophile chasing after them. Bélanger and another man confronted Ahmed, and Bélanger punched him in the face. Ahmed fell, hit his head and died later of brain trauma.

Judge Linda Despots ruled that the very serious crime could neither be punished by a sentence of two years less a day to be served in the community as the defence had wanted, nor by a sentence of six years as requested by the crown.

Despots said while Bélanger had good intentions, pleaded guilty, expressed remorse and was still young, his violent way of handling the situation betrayed his impulsiveness and his inability to control it, despite attempts at therapy. Despots also said Bélanger, who doesn't work or go to school, hasn't made an effort to help himself or to tame his impulsive tendencies.

In a victim impact letter, Ahmed's family said they lost a generous and supportive father and his death has meant that his older children had to leave school to work and support the family. One of his daughters was in court for the sentence but didn't want to comment.

Bélanger was very emotional as he hugged his family and friends outside the courtroom prior to the sentencing and remained that way for the hearing.

"It was a fair sentence. (My client) accepts it. He'll now benefit from programs to help him with his problems," said Bélanger's lawyer Clemente Monterosso.

"He's glad it's over."



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