Mastermind re-sentenced for role in shootings outside Victoria nightclub

Somphavanh Chanthabouala sees sentence reduced following successful 2011 appeal

Somphavanh Chanthabouala was re-sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years, on a charge of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder stemming from a 2008 incident in front of the Red Jacket nightclub.

Chanthabouala, now 26, was originally convicted of first-degree murder for being party to the shooting death of Philbert Truong in 2008, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The conviction, however, was appealed and reduced to second-degree murder in November 2011 when the court determined the jury had been improperly instructed on the role intoxication played in the events outside the View Street club.

Also shot in the incident, but not killed, were Thuan Le and Robin Lepard. For his part in their injuries, Chanthabouala initially received concurrent sentences of 18 and 10 years, respectively, for attempted murder.

On July 18, 2008, Chanthabouala had a minor altercation with Le inside the club. Later, Chanthabouala called a friend to help him confront Le outside. Soon afterwards, Mark Arrieta, then 16, arrived by cab.

The two walked toward Le and his friends, Truong and Lepard. Arrieta produced a loaded handgun and pointed it at Le’s chest, but Truong stepped in between.

At some point, witnesses at the scene testified, Chanthabouala yelled “Shoot him; shoot him!”

Arrieta shot all three men, but killed only Truong. He was later convicted of second-degree murder.

Judge Keith Bracken delivered Chanthabouala’s new sentence on Friday. The judge disregarded the Crown’s argument that there were some elements of planning and deliberation by Chanthabouala in the shooting. He said there was insufficient evidence to know whether Chanthabouala had instructed Arrieta to bring a gun, and even whether he knew about the gun before it was produced. He therefore denied Crown attorneys’ request for a 16- to 18-year period of ineligibility for parole.

But neither did the judge agree to the defence’s request for the minimum period of 10 years without parole.

While acknowledging Chanthabouala’s supportive family and his participation in rehabilitation courses, the judge also noted the young man moved to Victoria to sell drugs and at first expressed no remorse for his crime.

He freely engaged in the lifestyle of a drug dealer and wished to emulate the gangster style, Bracken said.

rholmen@vicnews.com