Man sentenced for killing former Sault activist

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HALIFAX – The mentally ill man who killed a well-known gay rights activist in Halifax has been sentenced to nearly eight years’ incarceration.

Andre Noel Denny pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Raymond Taavel, formerly of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

After a tumultuous sentencing hearing Thursday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Judge Peter Rosinski gave Denny credit for nearly six years already served, leaving him with just under two years in custody followed by three years probation.

On the night of April 16, 2012, Denny had failed to return to a Halifax-area forensic psychiatric facility after receiving a one-hour unescorted pass.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Denny was impaired by alcohol, cocaine and psychosis about seven hours later when he got into an argument with Taavel outside a gay bar, punched him in the head and slammed his face into the pavement several times.

On Thursday, Denny clutched a large black feather as he sat surrounded by court sheriffs listening to Rosinski’s decision.

At one point, Denny became angry, yelling that he wanted to take the stand to tell the judge “what the hell’s going on.”

He then forcefully pushed his translator, who had been sitting next to him, and said “I’m sick of you.” The man fell over into a railing.

Denny – wearing a bright blue zip-up sweater and glasses with his hair shaved on the sides of his head and closely cropped on top — was then escorted out of the courtroom.

After a brief recess, Rosinski resumed reading his decision. Denny’s translator sat in the gallery.

At a sentencing hearing last month, the crown asked for a prison term of between seven and 10 years, while the defence asked for five to six years, which equates to time served.

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