Ontario mother fights for youth justice changes in wake of son’s shooting death in 2018 | Canadian

Sunday marked five years since Hayley Schultz’s son Bradley Pogue was gunned down outside a Cambridge, Ont., strip mall.

But Schultz says the memories are still fresh and vivid when she learned of the 24-year-old’s death.

Pogue, a native of Peterborough, Ont., was shot on Nov. 19, 2018, during a botched deal for a pound of marijuana. Police found Pogue outside the Brierdale Plaza with serious injuries. He was rushed to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

“I felt as though we were walking to the intensive care unit and I remember this sigh of relief going over me, like, ‘Oh, thank God,’” Schultz told Global News from her home in Peterborough.

“And then they said, ‘Can you please wait in this room?’ I knew then Bradley had passed.”

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Police learned that Pogue, a father of two, had stepped in front of his brother to protect him before he was shot. Schultz says her son was “relentless, fearless and compassionate.”

“He was just a very brave soul,” said his mother.

Schultz says seeking justice for her son has been a horrific experience.

A day after the shooting, police arrested Adam Adonis De-Gannes, 24, of Cambridge, and charged him with second-degree murder. CTV reported in September 2020 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the shooting in which he claimed he had set up a drug deal for a youth to rob Pogue. De-Gannes was sentenced to six years in prison.

Four days later, a 17-year-old boy was also arrested and charged with second-degree murder. At the time he could not be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

However, in April of this year, The Waterloo Record reports, a judge imposed an adult sentence for second-degree murder, meaning the publication ban could be lifted.

Peter Bouctsis was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for seven years. Due to time served prior to his sentencing, he is eligible to apply for parole in 2025.

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Following the sentencing, Schultz says Bouctsis filed an appeal.

“To lure somebody knowing full well that guns loaded — guns don’t kill people, people kill people with guns,” she said.

She says she’s now lobbying for legislative changes to the justice system, namely youth sentencing and parole eligibility.

“When you commit a murder at 17, it should be directly to jail,” she said. “It should be an adult charge. You should not be able to go to a day camp for four and a half years and play video games and get pizza on Friday nights.”

Bradley Pogue with his mother Hayley Schultz.

Courtesy of Hayley Schultz

Peterborough-Kawartha Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri is supporting Schultz in her push for reform. A significant issue is parole decisions, noting while Bouctsis was sentenced as an adult, he was given under the minimum of 10 years before parole eligibility due to his age at the time of the shooting.

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“So if you’re a gang member — which this gentleman who killed Hayley’s son, who killed Bradley is — under the current law, under the Liberal law, you can now serve a gun crime as house arrest.”

Ferreri notes Pogue’s family may have to relive the incident again when Bouctsis’ eligibility arrives in 2025.

“When criminals come up for parole, it truly re-victimizes the victim,” Ferreri said. “To go through that parole hearing again and to be eligible for parole.”

A third individual was arrested in June 2019. Amber Craig, 38, eventually pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for exchanging text messages with Bouctsis after the shooting. In 2021 she was sentenced to 18 months house arrest.

For Schultz, her crusade for change will go on for as long as it takes — ensuring her son is more than a statistic.

“I would just say, forever your mom, forever my son,” she said. “And I will fight forever for change.”

— with files from Robert Lothian/Global News Peterborough

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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