Sheldon O'Donnell, Vernon Greeks Gang Member, Should Get Long Jail Term: Crown

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Greeks gang associate Sheldon O'Donnell should get a long-term jail sentence for first-degree murder, a Crown lawyer says. (<a href=Castanet.net)" />
Greeks gang associate Sheldon O'Donnell should get a long-term jail sentence for first-degree murder, a Crown lawyer says. (Castanet.net)

VANCOUVER - A violent gang enforcer who will already serve life for first-degree murder should receive another 25-year sentence and an 18-year term for two other murders because he's extremely dangerous, says a Crown lawyer.

Sheldon O'Donnell was convicted of first-degree murder, for which he'll spend life in prison without parole for 25 years, and two second-degree murders while he was a member of the notorious Greeks gang.

Crown lawyer Peter Favell told a hearing Tuesday that O'Donnell should be sentenced to 25 years in prison for one of the second-degree murders and 18 years for the other.

"Mr. O'Donnell seemed prepared to kill these men as part of his job, as something to do," Favell said of the murders in 2004 and 2005.

He told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bill Smart that the chilling murders were a byproduct of O'Donnell's employment and that should be an extenuating circumstance in sentencing for the man who is "a serious danger to society."

But Sheldon's lawyer, Glen Orris, wants his client to serve 12 years for both second-degree murders, saying that while O'Donnell was a gang member, he didn't embrace the lifestyle.

Favell told Smart that he should consider a tougher parole eligibility for the two counts of second-degree murder because O'Donnell might appeal the first-degree conviction.

If O'Donnell wins an appeal on the first-degree conviction the sentences will be important to keep the man in prison, Favell said.

"In the Crown's position there are no mitigating circumstances," he said. "He's a repeat killer who does so for the purposes of occupational necessity."

O'Donnell, 31, was convicted in the drug-related killings of Ronald Thom, David Marniuk and Thomas Bryce.

The trial heard Thom was murdered after he was mistaken as a police informant, while both Marniuk and Bryce were involved in drugs and got caught in the Greeks' net.

O'Donnell used an aluminum baseball bat in the beating death of Bryce and cremated Marniuk's body after killing him, Favell said.

"The evidence suggests he was pleased with what he had done," Favell said.

"He has a highly developed criminal history with an ample appetite for violence."

O'Donnell is among five members or associates of the Greeks convicted for the murders. Two of his co-accused have already been sentenced to life in prison.

Orris said O'Donnell was born in Cape Breton, N.S., in 1981, quit school in Grade 10 and moved to Vernon in July 1999 to work in construction.

He sold marijuana to supplement his income and also committed some thefts and fraud before being recruited by the Greeks as an enforcer, Orris said.

Although he was part of the gang, O'Donnell "maintained a certain independence" and others who joined after him rose in hierarchy, Orris said.

"What we're dealing with here is a young man who got caught up in a gang at a young age but even then had the wherewithal to not totally embrace it."

O'Donnell didn't have the same tattoos as other Greeks members or wear a gold ring that was given to him by the gang leader, he said.

However, the judge noted police seized the ring from O'Donnell's home.

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