A sentencing hearing is underway for two former Hamilton paramedics found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life when they responded to the shooting of 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi.
The crown is seeking a sentence of two and a half years in prison for Christopher Marchant and Steven Snively, who were both convicted by a Superior Court judge in June.
The pair responded to a 911 call near Al-Hasnawi’s mosque near Main and Sanford on Dec. 2, 2017, after he was shot while coming to the aid of an older man who was being accosted by two younger men.
In his decision, Justice Harrison Arrell said the paramedics showed a “departure” from care standards by not taking Al-Hasnawi’s injury seriously and delaying in taking him to hospital.
He also said Marchant and Snively made “a conscious decision to ignore the obvious evidence before them” by taking him to St. Joseph’s Hospital rather than Hamilton General Hospital — the city’s lead trauma hospital.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, crown attorney Linda Shin read victim impact statements from Al-Hasnawi’s mother, father and younger brother, as well as a community impact statement from the Al-Moustafa Islamic Centre.
Amal Alzurufi, Yosif’s mother, wrote that she isolates herself from her other children so they won’t see her crying, and described how it feels to lose a child.
“It feels like someone has ripped your heart out of your chest,” she wrote. “I’m always crying, I’m constantly in pain. My heart breaks.”
She called the actions of the paramedics that night “unprofessional,” and said while she doesn’t hate them, she’s angry about what happened.
“I loved my son, and I wish that here was here, and none of this happened.”
Ahmed Al-Hasnawi, who witnessed his older brother’s death at the age of 13, wrote that his life has been “completely turned upside-down” as a result of Yosif’s death.
“Quite honestly, I can’t remember being happy ever since he’s been gone.”
The maximum prison sentence for failing to provide the necessaries of life is five years.
Shin argued that Snively and Marchant should each be sentenced to two and a half years, citing their position as medical authorities that had the training and standards of care that set out what they were supposed to do.
“The required steps were simple, in this case — treat the injury as serious, depart immediately, take the patient to a trauma centre. That’s it.”
She added that paramedics are granted a “great deal of trust by the community” to care for citizens in times of need, and said the pair broke that public trust.
“They robbed Yosif of his only chance of survival and caused his death.”
Defense for Snively and Marchant are asking for a conditional sentence of six to nine months, followed by a period of probation and 100 hours of community service.
Michael DelGobbo, counsel for Snively, provided character testimony about the elder paramedic during the latter portion of Monday’s hearing.
He described Snively as a devoted family man and a hardworking and passionate paramedic since he began his career in 2005, with his wife referring to him as “a person who is addicted to his job and never expected any of this to happen.”
The hearing is will continue on Tuesday and will hear from Marchant’s lawyer.
Justice Arrell has indicated he will reserve his decision until a later date.
The gunman who shot Al-Hasnawi was found not guilty of second-degree murder by a jury in Nov. 2019, but the crown is appealing that verdict.
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