The man awaiting trial for the 2014 killing of Chris Ausman was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in prison for unrelated charges.
Stephen Pirko pleaded guilty to two counts of break and enter and another charge of possession of stolen property.
“I’m sorry for my actions,” Pirko told the court via the video feed from the Okanagan Correction Centre, where he’s been held since his November 2016 arrest.
“I wouldn’t have done these things if I wasn’t addicted to heroin … I’m trying to make the best of a crappy situation.”
The “best” explained his lawyer means taking advantage of the detox and addiction programs available in prison. Pirko’s been sober for seven months.
Before that, however, he was in the the throes of his addiction. Pirko, said his lawyer, lived with his mother at the time of break-ins. She has “significant health issues” and supports herself through government disability subsidies. He has never had a relationship with his father and has a Grade 11 education.
“The most serious issue for him is he’s a heroin addict,” said his lawyer.
Crown and defence agreed that a nine-month sentence in this case would be appropriate. No probation was suggested as neither anticipated he’d “be getting out of custody soon.”
Judge Vincent Hogan agreed to the sentence—ultimately handing down three nine-month sentences to be served concurrently— but kicked in some sharp words aimed at getting Pirko to shape up.
“There’s this bizarre idea floating around in the public that judges are not victims of crime and they take an ivory tower approach to crime,” he said.
That, he said, is not the case. He’s had his house and motorhome looted, and every one of his children’s bikes stolen at some point.
“I, like other people, get sentimentally attached to my property so I understand what people go through when they get looted,” he said. “They don’t say I hope it’s a nice young man who’s a heroin addict that does it.”
On the contrary, he said, victims of crime want to form a 14th Century mob and deal with the crook in the least civilized means available — but the law stops them from doing so.
“I want you to find a half decent way to find a good life …. Please, son, you’re 24 years old. Turn this mess around because we want you to do well.”
Pirko will be in court for a preliminary inquiry on the charge of second degree murder in January 2018.
Chris Ausman’s body was found on the sidewalk in the 100 block of Highway 33 Jan. 25, 2014.
Ausman, who worked at Ace Plumbing and Heating, was known to friends as an all-round decent guy.
On the night of his death he had reportedly been playing poker with friends. It was surmised he’d likely been at the Rutland 7-11 and ran into someone with ill intent. The case had seemingly run cold, until November 2016 when Pirko was arrested and charged.