Curses and jeers followed defence lawyer John Rosen as he left a Milton courtroom Friday afternoon (March 17), reflecting bitter feelings after a judge delivered sentences in the murder of Brian Stockton. "Rosen, you're scum," one man yelled out. Minutes earlier, in Superior Court of Justice, Judge Bruce Durno had sentenced Mississauga's John McClatchey, 49, to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month in the death of Stockton, a father of two. A sentence of life in prison was automatic after Halton Hills resident Michael McDonough, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Justice Durno determined he would have no chance of parole for 14 years from the day of his arrest-- 10 years is automatic, and the judge can decide to increase that time. Family members expressed anger and disappointment at the sentences outside the courtroom. Jim Kelly, uncle of Brian Stockton, said he didn't think justice was served. Twenty-five years without parole would've been more fitting for McDonough, he said. "And the other guy got a slap on the wrist. He could've prevented the whole thing," Kelly said. He was referring to the fact Stockton received no help from McClatchey after having been stabbed by McDonough. Instead, he agreed to help with the cover-up. "It's another travesty," said an angry Jim Stockton, Brian's brother, of the sentence.
"It's typical across the country." Stockton's charred body was discovered when crews from the Milton Fire Department extinguished a flaming car just after midnight June 17, 2004 behind Traffix transport company on Regional Road 25, north of Hwy. 401. Reading a statement of facts, Justice Durno said McDonough, McClatchey and Stockton were friends who met up June 16 at McKeown Collision, where McDonough and McClatchey worked. At 4 p.m., the trio began drinking beer and vodka in the garage, the court heard. By 7:30 p.m., the men had moved to the legion hall on Charles Street to continue their drinking. They then took two vehicles-- McClatchey's and Stockton's-- to the Fourth Line residence where McClatchey and McDonough rented rooms, and more alcohol was consumed, the court heard. At about 10 p.m., the men left in Stockton's car to go to Streetsville, when a minor argument broke out over their plans for the night. The dispute became heated, and McDonough took a knife and stabbed Stockton four times in his torso-- once through his heart-- and once in his left side below his ribs. He lay there, in front of the auto shop, in a pool of blood. He was still alive, but unconscious from blood loss. McDonough and McClatchey thought he was dead, Justice Durno said.
McDonough asked McClatchey to help him cover up his crime, and he agreed. They carried Stockton to an area not seen from the road, and drove Stockton's car back to their Fourth Line home where they picked up McClatchey's car. Back at McKeown Collision with both cars, the two men put Stockton in the trunk of his vehicle. Stockton's prosthetic legs-- he was a double amputee from an accident when he was 13-- fell off, and they were put into the back seat of the car, the court heard. Stockton's family members later said the prosthesis wouldn't have fallen off by itself-- it had to be taken off. McDonough drove Stockton's car to Traffix, with McClatchey following in his car behind. Gasoline was poured by one of the men in the car and the trunk, and the car was set on fire. The court heard that McDonough drove back to his Fourth Line residence, where he told people to say he'd been there the entire night if questioned. McClatchey also returned home, smelling of gas. The next day, McClatchey was arrested without incident, while McDonough refused to surrender, telling police to kill him instead. He was shot by a taser gun. Stockton's immediate cause of death was determined to be smoke inhalation. Without medical attention, he would've eventually died from the stab wounds, court heard. In the autopsy, Stockton was found to have four times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. "No sentence I could impose today can turn back the clock," Justice Durno said before delivering his decisions, adding, "The (victim impact) statement painted a portrait of a loving and devoted husband and father-- a person who brought joy into the lives of so many." In sentencing McClatchey to six years, Justice Durno took into consideration that he "wasn't involved in any way in the stabbing and pleaded guilty and surrendered to police." McClatchey will spend an additional 30 months in prison, since he's already been in custody 21 months, which counts as 42 months (pre-sentence custody is calculated as double the amount of time). Six years was the sentence agreed to by Crown Attorney Laurie Jago, as well as defence lawyer Edward Royle. In determining if McDonough should be ineligible for parole for more than 10 years, Justice Durno said he took into consideration that he pleaded guilty, sparing the family a lengthy and painful trial. Factors that counted against McDonough included McDonough made no attempts to get help after stabbing Stockton, and didn't surrender to police. And he had a "significant" criminal record, with 22 convictions from 1981 to 2003, Justice Durno told the court. Justice Durno stressed that just because McDonough will be eligible for parole in 14 years doesn't mean he'll be released then. Jago had been requesting parole ineligibility for 15 to 18 years, while McDonough's lawyer, John Rosen, said no parole for 12 to 14 was more appropriate, should the judge decide to extend the period from the automatic 10 years. McDonough, who has two sons, looked unfazed as he was lead from the courtroom, clad in a black suit, his dark balding hair close-cropped.