Judge offers compassion in sentencing Calgary man who killed abusive father

Vincent Fong, 41, was handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years. Fong killed his abusive father in 2019. (Facebook - image credit)
Vincent Fong, 41, was handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years. Fong killed his abusive father in 2019. (Facebook - image credit)

A Calgary man with a "complex constellation of mental deficits" who killed his abusive father was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison but is permitted to apply for parole after 10 years, the minimum ineligibility period allowed under Canada's Criminal Code.

Vincent Fong, 41, has diagnoses of autism, obsessive compulsive disorder and an intellectual disability.

In March, a jury convicted Vincent of second-degree murder in the death of his father, Kwan Fong, 70.

The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but despite the Crown asking for a 12-year parole ineligibility period, Court of King's Bench Justice Paul Jeffrey ruled Vincent can apply to be released after the minimum term of 10 years.

'No way out'

Jeffrey found Vincent's moral blameworthiness was lessened because of his mental health and cognitive issues.

"Vincent's offence was reactionary, in the moment and in response to what to him was an intolerable situation with no end in sight and no other way out," wrote Jeffrey in his 10-page sentencing decision.

On Jan. 9, 2019, after returning home from a day program, Vincent was confronted by his father about his spinning. Kwan also hurled what Jeffrey described as "vicious verbal abuse" at his son.

Vincent pushed his father down a set of stairs inside the home, retrieved a knife and stabbed Kwan in the neck. He called 911 and told the operator and later a police officer that he was "not scared" of his father anymore.

'Force and ridicule'

During the trial, court heard evidence that Kwan did not accept his son's neurological disorders and believed he could discipline them out of Vincent, who was known to touch and lick things.

"These behaviours embarrassed his father ever since they were manifest in Vincent as a young boy," wrote Jeffrey.

"Ever since then, the father tried to change Vincent by force and ridicule. Ever since he was a boy, Vincent feared his father."

At the sentencing hearing earlier this month, defence lawyers Katherin Beyak and Curtis Mennie told the judge their client felt powerless to escape his abusive situation.

'Vincent did not understand'

Prosecutor Margot Engley argued the judge should impose a 12-year parole ineligibility period, while Beyak and Mennie asked the judge to consider the minimum 10-year period.

In the end, Jeffrey found Vincent's mental health deficits played a significant role in his commission of the offence, including cognitive impairment, limited understanding of consequences and a lack of impulse control.

"Vincent did not understand the full consequences of his murderous act," wrote Jeffrey.

Vincent will serve his sentence in Saskatoon at the Regional Psychiatric Centre, a facility structured to manage his "unique challenges."

With credit for the time he has spent in custody awaiting trial, Vincent has less than five years left to serve.