The grief-stricken parents of
Andrew Moffitt left the Ottawa courthouse in tears yesterday after
watching their son's killer get five years in prison for manslaughter.
"I'm speechless," said the victim's mother, Paulette Moffitt of Brockville, who'd been hoping for a sentence twice as long.
It's been more than four years
since her son, a 23-year-old University of Ottawa computer engineering
student, was knifed in the heart while trying to restrain a violent
patron at a Sandy Hill bar.
The patron, Henry Danninger,
30, was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded
guilty last November to manslaughter.
After passing sentence, the
judge assured the victim's family - who've been left devastated by
Moffitt's death - that they were foremost in his thoughts during his
"No sentence I could give out would breathe life in Andy," Ontario Superior Court Justice Roydon Kealey said.
He gently urged the family -
which also includes the victim's father, Rodney, and two brothers,
Rodney Jr., 31, and Michael, 16 - to carry on with their lives, just as
the victim would likely have wanted them to do.
"The case is done. It's over. It is my hope and prayer that you are given the grace to put closure in your lives," Kealey said.
Danninger was given the usual
double credit for time spent in pre-trial custody, along with
consideration for the strict conditions he was forced to follow while
on bail. As a result, his eight- to nine-year sentence was reduced to
Danninger will be eligible to
apply for parole in a little less than two years, said his lawyer,
Susan Mulligan, who called the sentence "appropriate and fair."
Danninger had been studying at
the University of Ottawa before dropping out in 1998. He had no
criminal record or history of violence before the stabbing.
"In the past four years, I have
thought of the premature and violent death of Andy each and every day,"
Danninger said yesterday in court while apologizing to the victim's
By coincidence, he and Moffitt had gone to the same Brockville high school. They didn't know each other.
Also by coincidence, they
crossed paths at Coyotes Bar on Somerset Street East on December 23,
1998. Moffitt was there to celebrate the end of exams while Danninger,
a marijuana dealer, was there to confront a roommate he suspected of
swiping some of his supply.
Moffitt jumped in to restrain
Danninger after he went wild and assaulted the roommate and another
patron. During the skirmish, Danninger stabbed Moffitt with a knife.
"I hope for the remainder of
his life that he thinks about what he did to Andy," Paulette Moffitt
said before walking away from the courthouse one final time.
Published in Section A, page
1 in the Friday, March 28, 2003 edition of the Brockville Recorder & Times. Posted 4:30:59 PM Friday, March 28, 2003.