Fort Saskatchewan father gets 7-year sentence for killing infant son
WARNING: This story contains disturbing details
A long and emotional trial ended Tuesday morning in the Court of King’s Bench in Edmonton when a Fort Saskatchewan father was convicted of the manslaughter of his infant son and the assault of his daughter of five years.
Damien Starrett was sentenced to seven years in prison for what the judge described as « an act of extreme brutality ».
The judge reduced Starrett’s sentence to four and a half years after considering a number of factors, including how long Starrett has already served in custody and under strict house arrest.
The judge’s decision infuriated the victims’ grandfather, who began expressing his displeasure even before the judge left the courtroom. Once the judge walked out, he erupted in anger at Starrett, crown prosecutors and the justice system in general. The children’s mother was quickly embraced by supporters as she sobbed on a bench in the courtroom.
Starrett, 33, was caring for his two children in November 2019 when he suddenly attacked them.
Ares, Starrett’s son, had just celebrated his first birthday.
« He punched, kicked and stomped on this very vulnerable child in the head and face repeatedly, » Judge John Henderson wrote in his 22-page ruling. « Within minutes, the child died from blunt-force head trauma. »
Starrett’s five-year-old daughter witnessed the attack. His identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. Starrett hit her at least twice on the side of the head.
« There is no evidence of planning or deliberation on Mr. Starrett’s part, » Henderson wrote.
« He acted impulsively and disproportionately hitting his children. »
Henderson wrote that Starrett was « overwhelmed by a confluence of circumstances » when he attacked his children, including suffering from heroin withdrawal, insomnia and back pain.
The judge found that Starrett was « willfully blind to the consequences of his actions. »
The judge denounces the behavior of prison guards
Henderson reduced Starrett’s sentence by three months for what he called « state misconduct. »
While Starrett was incarcerated and about to be released on house arrest from the Edmonton Remand Center, he was subjected to what the judge described as « grossly inappropriate conduct » by guards.
According to the written ruling, guards called Starrett a « baby killer » and a guard told her, « I can’t believe they let you go. You should kill yourself. »
Henderson strongly denounced the behavior of the guards.
« This was a flagrant violation of their duty to protect the inmates of the remand center, » he wrote.
The judge also ruled that Starrett should get another four months deduction from his sentence for being placed in interim administrative segregation during COVID-19 and then being placed under vigilance at his Fort Saskatchewan home once he was released. was released under house arrest.
Judge Henderson also reduced Starrett’s sentence to 13½ months for « very restrictive and onerous » conditions during house arrest.
Outside of court, Starrett’s attorney said his client is still trying to come to terms with the sentencing decision.
« I’m glad the judge recognized many of the factors that I was asking him to recognize, » Rory Ziv told reporters. « Of course I wish the sentence was lighter, but at least it gives my client a chance.
« I want you to remember that there are no winners in this business. I’ve said it before. Everyone loses. »
Ziv said he hoped Starrett would be allowed to serve his sentence in a medium-security facility and that there would be no more security issues.
The judge imposed a no contact order with Starrett’s former partner and daughter while he is incarcerated.
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