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

New Bulldogs forward Oak MacLeod fires a shot on the Grizzlies’ goal during the first period of a preseason game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Tuesday, Oct. 27. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: New guys get game winner for Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Alberni records a 5-4 overtime win against the Victoria Grizzlies

From left to right: Mark Walter, BJ Gillis, Kyle Munro and Danny Gillis of the Alberni Valley Disc Golf Club stand beside a disc golf basket at Dry Creek Park. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Disc golf expands to Port Alberni’s Dry Creek Park

New 18-hole course will be ready to play by spring of 2021

A Trio of Roses (CYNTHIA BONESKY)
ARTS AROUND: Stop and smell the flowers at the Rollin Art Centre

Next exhibit features Port Alberni artists Cynthia Bonesky and Jan Vriesen

PanAmour, featuring some familiar Port Alberni faces, will perform online via Zoom Oct. 30, 2020 at Char’s Landing. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cure the blues with PanAmour at Char’s Landing

Tickets for virtual concert available online

Pat Lauder laughs as car after car pass his home on Josephine Street and honk, the drivers shouting birthday greetings. Lauder turns 80 this year. Oct. 22, 2020 ((SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hupacasath First Nation elder feted with family parade in Port Alberni

Pat Lauder celebrates 80 years in socially-distanced style

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An arrest warrant has been issued for Brian Thomas, of Nanaimo, who is accused of throwing a “spear-like object” at a vehicle. (Photo submitted)
Warrant out for Nanaimo man who allegedly threw ‘spear-like object’ at vehicle

Brian Thomas failed to make court appearance, say RCMP

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Most Read