An Ojibway man who suffered in residential school has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail for killing the property manager at his former Vancouver home.
According to the ruling by Supreme Court of B.C. Justice Jennifer Duncan, 54-year-old Gerald Eldon Smith brutally beat Paul Belozer after Belozer tried to get him to leave the apartment complex on East 5th Avenue.
The attack occurred on April 1, 2017, after Belozer asked the drunk Smith to leave the residence, where he had been found sleeping in a chair on the main floor. Smith had been evicted a few months before, but returned to the residence regularly where he usually slept in another tenant’s home.
On this night, that tenant has refused Smith access to their suite.
Duncan wrote that Belozer called the police when Smith wouldn’t leave. This enraged Smith, who hit Belozer (a slightly-built man with several health issues) from behind as he was returning to his basement suite. Smith then kicked Belozer multiple times. Belozer survived the beating and was able to call police and an ambulance. He died a week later of his injuries — that included broken ribs, a partly-collapsed lung, bleeding on the brain and cuts and bruises on his head and body.
Smith was arrested at the residence on the morning after the attack. He had Belozer’s blood on his hands and a sock with a rock inside it was recovered from his backpack.
Smith was initially charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the less charge of manslaughter.
As is required by law, Duncan took into account Smith’s Aboriginal ancestry when she determined the fit sentence would be five and half years, less 19.5 months for the time he had already been in custody (one and a half months for each month in jail until sentencing).
Smith, from Manitoba, was one of 12 children who were raised by parents that had gone through the residential school system. The household was alcohol-fuelled and violent (though both parents stopped drinking later in life and made amends.) Smith — who has several children and grandchildren — was also forced into a residential school where he was beaten and sexually abuses. He started drinking at age 10. He was jailed in 1991 for assault with a weapon and for assault in 2011.
Court heard that Belozer’s slaying had devastated his elderly parents and his only surviving brother, with whom he was very close.