No prison time for TWU security guard convicted of manslaughter

Hutchison will serve 18 month conditional sentence
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BC Supreme Court in New Westminster. (zvakwana files)

A security guard who killed a suspected intruder on Trinity Western University’s Langley campus will not serve time behind bars, a B.C. judge ruled.

Jack Cruthers Hutchison was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Glen Hill earlier this spring by Justice Catherine Murray in New Westminster Supreme Court.

Hutchison will serve an 18-month conditional sentence order, with a curfew, after Murray ruled that he was no threat to the community and did not act out of any criminal intent when he tackled and held down Hill on Sept. 30, 2020.

Hill, who suffered from schizophrenia and had not taken his medication in four months, was first spotted on the campus wandering through the student residences, entering dorm rooms and rifling through items. Those who saw him reported he appeared “out of it,” Murray noted in her sentencing.

After students called security, Hutchison caught up with Hill and chased him as Hill was headed in the direction of a student on the edge of a sports field. He tackled Hill and held him down in a headlock.

When police arrived, Hill was unconscious, and the first officers on the scene began attempts to revive him. Hill died in hospital a few days later after he was taken off life support.

READ MORE: TWU security guard found guilty of Langley manslaughter

A pathologist’s opinion was that Hill’s death was caused by prolonged pressure on vital blood vessels on one side of his neck, cutting off the oxygen supply to the man’s brain.

During her decision, Murray ruled that Hutchison was acting in defence of the students and school, and in self-defence, during the start of his scuffle with Hill. But the situation changed as he continued to hold Hill down. Students on the scene said Hill had stopped moving for about five minutes before police arrived, and he did not appear to be breathing.

Although Hutchison is guilty of manslaughter, the judge found there would be no public purpose served by locking him up.

“While I rejected Mr. Hutchison’s defence of accident, I accept that he did not know he was putting pressure on vital vessels,” Murray said in her sentencing ruling. “He thought he was performing the headlock safely, making sure to keep Mr. Hill’s airway open.”

She added that Hutchison was motivated to protect others in his role as a security guard.

“He does not pose a danger to others,” Murray wrote, noting Hutchison’s lack of a criminal record. “He is not a violent man. He is an upstanding member of the community. He adds value to the community. There is no need to protect the community from Mr. Hutchison. In fact, the community is a better place with him in it.”

Although the 18-month sentence is technically a prison term, it will be served in the community. Hutchison will be under a number of conditions, including a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew, and a ban on consuming alcohol or drugs.

He will have to perform 120 hours of community service. The judge recommended at least part of that work involved educating people including bouncers, security guards, martial artists, or police, about the dangers of neck restraints.

“I stress that this conclusion is in no way a reflection on the value of Glen Hill’s life. He was a good man whose life mattered,” Murray said. “Sending Mr. Hutchison to jail will not bring Mr. Hill back, nor will it heal the wounds of those who cared about him.”

Murray also noted the anger from Hill’s family members, whose victim impact statements expressed doubt that Hutchison felt any remorse.

“But just as have I watched you throughout the trial, I have watched Mr. Hutchison,” the judge said to Hill’s family. “He is clearly a broken man. I firmly believe that he is not broken because of the circumstances in which he finds himself. I truly believe that he is broken because he caused Glen’s death.”