The Youth known as M.T., who can now be identified as Melissa Todorovic, was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for her role in the callous murder of 14 year old Stefanie Rengel. The case was noteworthy for the instant messages introduced into evidence which demonstrated Todorovic’s complicity in directing her boyfriend to commit the offence.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act provides that an adult sentence may be imposed on a young offender if the Court is of the opinion that a Youth sentence would not be of sufficient length to “hold the young person accountable for his or her offending behaviour.” As the Act operates on the premise that young persons do not bear the same degree of responsibility as adults, the imposition of an adult sentence is very much the exception rather than the rule. This however was a particularly shocking offence, and the offender showed little remorse.
Faced with these circumstances, Mr. Justice Ian Nordheimer, an outstanding and careful judge, determined that an adult sentence was necessary for the protection of the public. In sentencing Todorovic, he said:
I do not accept that Melissa has a reduced responsibility for this terrible act. A person who plans and orchestrates and directs another person to take the life of a human being is at least as morally culpable as the person who does the actual act. Put simply, the puppet master is not less blameworthy than the puppet. Indeed, I would suggest that the master is more culpable since he or she puts the wheels in motion and then stands back under a facade of disassociation while the scheme that they have created unfolds.