Ottawa Sun: Justice not served by court: Parents
Ottawa Sun: Justice not served by court: Parents

Friday, May 9, 2003

Justice not served by court: Parents


There will never be justice for Andy.

That's how Andrew Moffitt's stricken parents feel after learning Wednesday that the Crown won't appeal what they feel is a too-lenient sentence for their son's killer, Henry Danninger.

"I really hoped the justice system would come through for us and for Andy," Paulette Moffitt said, tears staining her face. "He did nothing wrong. Our life is over but I hoped, for our two other boys, to know he was punished and they could go on with their lives.

"The justice system has made Andy's life worthless."

"It's heart-breaking," Rodney Moffitt added. "You believe in something and it's gone."

The Crown has decided not to pursue an appeal, Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Attorney General said. The reason for the decision, made by a panel of lawyers in Toronto, is confidential, he said.

"The Crown has a very narrow ability to appeal," Crawley said. "It boils down to the Crown can't appeal because they don't approve or agree with a decision. There has to be a significant error of such that had it not been made the outcome may have been different."

Henry Danninger, 30, was sentenced to five years in jail, and is eligible to apply for parole in less than two years, for fatally stabbing Moffitt in the heart in an Ottawa bar just before Christmas in 1998. Danninger, a drug dealer, went to the bar with a knife to confront a friend he believed had taken his stash. Moffitt, a 23-year-old University of Ottawa engineering student, was trying to break up the fight.

Both men were from Brockville, although they didn't know one another. Justice Roydon Kealey said the sentence would have been eight to nine years but he reduced it for the time Danninger spent living under strict bail conditions at his mother's home in Brockville, as well as the usual double credit for time spent in custody before trial.

Danninger had no criminal record of violence.

Assistant Crown attorney James Cavanagh, who recommended an appeal, said last month that it was the first time, to his knowledge, that an offender was given time off his sentence for time he didn't spend in jail. Nor was Danninger following bail conditions. He was sentenced last month to 30 days in jail after admitting to repeatedly throwing urine and feces on a neighbour's car as he awaited trial.

The Moffitts argue that the justice system has to change to be more responsive to victims and to make judges accountable to the public. They continue to grieve in their Kensington Parkway home, a shrine to their dead son. Paulette Moffitt keeps the blood-spattered shoes he wore the night he was murdered under her bed and cherishes his baby booties and dozens of framed photographs. She wears a pendant with his picture on it around her neck.

The Moffits can't believe that they may soon see Danninger walking free in the city.

"If he's out in two years we're going to have to move out of Brockville," Paulette Moffitt said. "I can never face that man again. He doesn't deserve to be alive. It's Andy who should be alive."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother