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Sentence upheld for Surrey senior who killed roommate following rent dispute

George Murray Bragg, 77, argued for a shorter jail term
Surrey RCMP responded to the scene of a fatal shooting in South Surrey in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2019. (Tracy Holmes file photo)

B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of a South Surrey senior convicted of manslaughter in a 2019 South Surrey shooting.

George Murray Bragg, 77, had been appealing the seven-year sentence he received in July of last year for the death of a former roommate, Richard Wayne Duncan, 46.

In summarizing the appeal in his written judgement – handed down on Feb. 10 – Justice Leonard Marchand said that Bragg had argued that a sentence of four to six years would be “consistent with his moral culpability and sentences imposed in similar circumstances.”

Bragg had said that, following last year’s jury trial, Justice Murray Blok had erred in “overemphasizing denunciation, general deterrence and retribution” without giving sufficient weight to Bragg’s expression of remorse.

But Marchand’s decision – in which appeal court justices Karen Horsman and Gail Dickson concurred – was that Blok had correctly determined an appropriate sentence.

“He… fully appreciated the nuances of the case, thoughtfully balanced a variety of competing factors, clearly explained his views regarding the seriousness of the offence and Mr. Bragg’s moral culpability, and imposed a proportionate and fit sentence.”

READ ALSO: Senior receives seven-year sentence for South Surrey shooting

On May 7, 2022, in his jury trial, Bragg was acquitted of first degree murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.

Police had responded to an emergency call to a house in the 1600-block of 160 Street around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2019, and found Duncan, still alive, suffering from eight gunshot wounds from Bragg’s legally owned .22 calibre pistol. He was taken to hospital, where he later died.

The court had heard that Bragg and his son Mark had rented the house with Duncan in February of 2019, after all three men had fallen on hard times.

In summarizing the case in his sentencing decision, Blok said both Braggs had testified that Duncan, described as “Mark’s acquaintance,” had “an unpredictable and hair-trigger temper.”

They had testified that Duncan had been “threatening and abusing them frequently, even daily, and punctuating some of his outbursts by punching holes in walls or doors or doing other damage to property.”

According to both Braggs, a dispute over rent in the early evening of Sept. 5, 2019 had culminated in Duncan threatening both with extreme physical violence at midnight.

Although defense counsel had argued that Bragg’s shooting of Duncan was nearer to self-defence than murder, Blok said he had to consider that it had been premeditated, that Bragg had prepared for it for some four hours, had concealed his gun, and had waited 30 to 40 minutes before calling for medical help.

“Mr. Bragg had hours to pursue other options, which included the obvious option of calling the police and enlisting their assistance,” Blok said.

“Although Mr. Bragg’s misguided belief that he had no viable options short of lethal force attenuates his moral culpability, it does not bring this matter to one of ‘near self‑defence’.”

Blok had said he also took into account Bragg’s advanced age, that he had led a “pro-social” life, had no criminal record, and that he and his son had lived with “constant threats” for months – balancing this against statements from “distraught” members of Duncan’s family.

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About the Author: Alex Browne

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