A youth who took part in a violent gang-related robbery, then attacked another youth at a city high school and flashed gang signs at the victim has been jailed.
Despite that, the judge encouraged the teen to turn his life around, quoting his high school coach who described him as "worth it."
"You are worth it, make sure you do something about it," Judge Krystyna Tarwid told the boy as he was led from the courtroom following sentencing.
The 16-year-old offender was sentenced this week for two robbery charges related to the same incident, and for an assault outside a city school.
The fight happened on Oct. 29 and was caught on surveillance video.
In the footage, which was played in court, the offender can be seen approaching the victim and the two then get in a scrap and wildly throw punches at each other.
They wind up on the ground, and the fight ends after the offender manages to get on top of the victim and repeatedly punches at his head.
The fight over, the offender flashes hand signs at the victim, which Crown attorney Jim Ross said represented the letters M and W for Manitoba Warriors.
More than 34 people witnessed the fight, and in the video at least one onlooker appears to record it on a cellphone.
Ross said the motive for the fight isn’t clear. The victim previously had ties with the Manitoba Warriors street gang (as does the offender), but had told authorities he wanted to leave.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Richert said the victim had provoked his client by going to his home and threatening him.
At the time of the fight, the youth had been released while pending on a pair of robbery charges he ultimately pleaded guilty to.
He took part in a violent three-on-one robbery on Nov. 2 in which a man was chased, beaten and robbed of headphones. They left the victim laying in a ball on the ground and his injuries included an impacted tooth and black eyes.
The trio of offenders then stole a cellphone from the victim’s girlfriend as she tried to call for help. One of the robbers told her they were Manitoba Warriors and would kill her boyfriend if she didn’t hand it over.
Court heard about two different sides of the young offender.
One account describes him as a binge-drinking drug user with gang ties who gets involved in crimes of violence. The other is that of a student and athlete whose teacher and coach describe as "respectful," "reflective" and a "leader."
Richert suggested that the youth could still head down a positive path in his life with the right guidance. On his part, the youth claims he has now left the gang.
Tarwid sentenced him to six months in jail on top of 45 days already served in pre-sentence custody. That will be followed by three months supervision in the community, then 18 months probation.
A 17-year-old co-accused boy recently received practically the same sentence for the robberies and other crimes.
A 14-year-old boy is set to be sentenced in January for the robberies and other offences.