Ki Yun Jo, the victim of a gas-and-dash robbery, is shown in an Alberta RCMP handout photo. A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after an Alberta gas station owner was killed in a gas-and-dash is to be sentenced today in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Mitchell Robert Sydlowski, who is 29, was charged with second-degree murder but he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence — as well as failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident — in August. (RCMP handout)

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the gas-and-dash death of an Alberta gas station owner has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski, 29, appeared Friday by video link in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Wetaskiwin, Alta.

Sydlowski, who is from Spruce Grove, Alta., was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in August to the lesser offence, as well as failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident.

“It goes without saying that this is a tragic situation,” Justice John William Hopkins said as he delivered Sydlowski’s sentence during an online court hearing.

An agreed statement of facts submitted in the case said 54-year old Ki Yun Jo was killed after Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel. It happened outside Jo’s Fas Gas station in Thorsby, about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, on Oct. 6, 2017.

A witness saw Jo hanging onto the van’s passenger side mirror and, when the vehicle swerved, he was tossed to the ground and run over by the rear tires of the van.

Court heard Jo died at the scene after suffering multiple blunt force injuries — a skull fracture, a broken neck and internal bleeding, despite the efforts of a retired EMT, a registered nurse and a firefighter who tried to administer first aid.

Jo’s daughter, Ka Yung Jo, said in a victim impact statement to the court last month that her dad’s death was the worst day of her life.

“My dad was senselessly and cruelly taken away from me,” she said. “Since then, my world has changed completely.”

She said she, her mom and her brother had to take over the gas station and had a difficult time running the business. They ended up selling it and moving away from the town.

Jo said her dad’s death left her family financially unstable and heartbroken.

“What I hated most was the man who ended my dad’s life,” she said. “He killed my father and ruined me, my life, my family and everything.”

The judge said it’s clear the death affected the family and the small town of Thorsby.

“The victim impact statement demonstrates the horrible impact this had on the family of Mr. Jo and the ultimate sale of the family business,” Hopkins said.

He said he recognizes no sentence will alleviate the pain and suffering, but he noted that the early guilty pleas came in advance of a trial during a global pandemic.

“It prevented the calling of numerous civilian witnesses and the family having to relive the minute details of the incident,” he said.

The judge also noted Sydlowski’s statement to the court expressing remorse for his actions.

“I am so sorry for the pain I have caused your family,” Sydlowski said during his sentencing hearing on Aug. 14. “I did not intend for any of this to happen.”

His seven-year sentence includes six years for manslaughter and one year for failing to remain at the scene. It will be reduced by about three years for time served prior to the guilty plea.

The judge also imposed a 10-year driving prohibition once Sydlowski gets out of prison.

The Crown had recommended a sentence of six to eight years, while Sydlowski’s lawyer suggested it should be at the lower end of the Crown’s recommendation because of the guilty pleas.

Hopkins said there may be one positive that can be taken from the tragedy.

“There was a change in legislation that took place thereafter requiring payment before pumping gas to prevent this from happening again to other vulnerable gas or convenience store clerks,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox author Loraine Hartley, with a few copies of her debut novel, “My Delightfully Dysfunctional Family.” Photo supplied
Comox author pens novel about life in a blended family

Generally speaking, authors write their books, then determine a title. But not… Continue reading

Police reported more than 2.2 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic offences) in 2019 within Canada- 164,784 more than in 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Crime Severity Index on the rise with the Valley, Canada: StatsCan

There were 1,450 actual incidents in the Comox Valley in 2019

Joyce Jay enjoys a moment with Georgia, her son Ed’s dog, at her Comox home. Joyce is 103 years old. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox centenarian recalls wartime Britain, moving to Canada

Joyce Jay isn’t one to shy away from adventure. She wanted to… Continue reading

The distance education program through Navigate (NIDES) has been seen some large gains in enrolment. Image, screenshot
Comox Valley school enrolment up despite fewer kids in class

Growth being driven heavily by increase in distance education numbers

The Comox Valley Airport had a recent flight arrive with a confirmed case of COVID-19. File photo
COVID-19 exposure on flight into Comox

WestJet flight 3315 from Calgary to Comox was identified with a case

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

Most Read