Top News

Craig Pope sentenced to life in prison, cannot apply for parole for 12 years

Craig Pope looks at family members as he is escorted away in handcuffs following his sentencing Friday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.
Craig Pope looks at family members as he is escorted away in handcuffs following his sentencing Friday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court. - Glen Whiffen

Act that led to murder defies logic: judge

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

In sentencing Craig Pope for the second-degree murder of Jonathan Collins on Friday, Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Justice Vikas Khaladkar expressed dismay over the “senseless act” that cost Collins his life.

Collins died as a result of an argument over $60.

“The offence in this case was precipitated over an argument concerning $60,” Khaladkar said Friday afternoon, noting the two men had been friends. “It defies logic that the victim lost his life over such a paltry sum.

“No sense can be made of it other than the offender completely lost control and was unable to manage his anger. No sentence that I am allowed to impose can ever undo the wrong that has been suffered.”

Pope, 34, was sentenced to the mandatory life in prison for second-degree murder, with a 12-year period of parole ineligibility. That means Pope cannot apply for parole until after he has served 12 years of his sentence. The application will not mean parole would be automatically granted at that time. It will trigger a hearing before the National Parole Board to determine whether parole should be granted.

Collins, 36, and a father of two, died on Sept. 7, 2017 of a single stab wound to the stomach that pierced his abdominal aorta. 

A jury found Pope guilty of second-degree murder on Friday, June 21, following a two-and-a-half week trial, and after just half a day of deliberations.

Through evidence presented at trial, the court heard Pope and Collins had spent much of that day together as passengers in a taxi, asking the driver to make a number of stops around St. John’s before ending up on Alderberry Lane in the centre of the city.

Pope’s father arrived in a cube van with a coworker and handed $60 to his son. A fight broke out after that, with multiple witnesses describing Pope as the aggressor, chasing Collins around the taxi and down the street onto Mundy Pond Road. That’s where Collins collapsed. None of the witnesses saw a stabbing, though they all reported seeing only Pope near Collins at the time. A weapon was never recovered.

Pope returned to the taxi. The driver testified Pope had demanded to be taken to Cowperwaite Court, off Elizabeth Avenue, before telling him to “run buddy over.” 

Pope was arrested within the hour inside a plastic surgeon’s clinic in that neighbourhood.

“I find aggravating the fact that the offender told the cab driver to drive over his friend as they were leaving the scene,” Khaladkar said. “This may have been uttered in the heat of the moment, but it is aggravating nonetheless.”

Khaladkar also acknowledged the victim’s family in his decision.

“The children of Jonathan Collins will now grow up without the benefit of the support, encouragement and love of their father, and the parents and sister of Jonathan Collins who courageously took the stand and read into the record the particulars of the horrendous loss that they have suffered, and will continue to suffer, because of a rash and senseless deed that defies any explanation.

“And, of course, Jonathan Collins has had the most grievous loss. All that he was or might have been are forever gone.”

Pope’s mother sobbed in the courtroom as the sentencing decision was read.

In the decision, Khaladkar also noted Pope’s three children are also victims.

“They will also be deprived of the care and upbringing that their father could have provided for them for some time to come,” he said.

Pope declined to address the court when Khaladkar asked if he had anything to say.

glen.whiffen@thetelegram.com

Recent Stories