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No parole for 12 years for man who killed Winnipeg bus driver

Death prompted calls for increased safety measures, including safety shields for drivers
By Kelly Geraldine Malone
| www.cos-mag.com
Winnipeg Transit
Students wait for a bus on the Dafoe Road bus stop in the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. November 2014. Vadim Rodnev / Shutterstock

WINNIPEG (CP) — A man convicted of killing a Winnipeg bus driver in what a judge described as a brutal and explosive stabbing will not be eligible for parole for 12 years.

Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, was at the end of his shift and route in February 2017, when he got into a fight with passenger Brian Kyle Thomas.

Security cameras on the bus show that Thomas asked the driver where he was and if he could use a phone.

Fraser told Thomas to leave the bus several times before the driver grabbed the man by the neck of his sweater and bent him over backwards. The driver then shoved Thomas off the bus.

From outside the bus, Thomas swung his arms at Fraser and spat at him. The driver stepped off the bus and Thomas stabbed him a dozen times.

A jury found the 25-year-old guilty earlier this year of second-degree murder. The conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison, and the Crown and defence both asked there be no parole eligibility for 12 years.

Chief Justice Glenn Joyal agreed Wednesday, saying the bus driver used ``undue aggression to an unruly passenger'' but that the passenger's response was ``explosive and enraged.''

``(There was) a significant degree of brutality,'' said Joyal.

The judge added that Fraser was no longer acting as a Winnipeg Transit operator when he became physical and stepped off the bus to face the unruly passenger, but he is not responsible for his own death.

Fraser's family expressed anger outside court at the judge's description.

``His shift didn't end when the bus stopped. His shift ends when he brings the bus to the station,'' said Fraser's brother, Dean Byard.

``My brother was still working at the time he was killed.''

Fraser's death prompted calls for increased safety measures on Winnipeg buses, including safety shields for drivers.

Crown prosecutor Paul Girdlestone has said the killing had a profound impact on other drivers and their families.

The defence did not present evidence during the trial but argued that the bus driver provoked the attack.

After the judge read his sentencing decision, Thomas began yelling at his lawyer, Theodore Mariash, calling him a ``sellout.''

Court heard Thomas had a dysfunctional childhood on the Shamattawa First Nation and both of his parents have been convicted of manslaughter. He became a permanent ward of Child and Family services when he was six.

Thomas also has fetal alcohol syndrome and addictions issues. Court heard he started sniffing solvents as a child and has a history of unpredictable and violent behaviour.

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