Violent extortion attempt lands gangster in prison
THE mother of an imprisoned Winnipeg gang member was terrorized at gunpoint by several of her son's criminal colleagues during a violent attempt to extort $40,000 from her.
Details of the February 2007 incident emerged for the first time Monday at the sentencing hearing for one of the attackers. The victim -- who immigrated from South Africa -- described her ordeal as comparable to the violence she witnessed in refugee camps prior to coming to Canada.
"This day brought it all back to her. This was a horrible, unprovoked assault," Crown attorney Carla Dewar said.
The single mother of four suffered extensive physical and emotional injuries and was placed in the federal witness-protection program.
She moved out of the province, court was told.
Cory Amyotte, 23, pleaded guilty to numerous offences including aggravated assault and extortion. On Monday, he was given four years in prison under a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
Amyotte had known the victim for years and was involved in the Mad Cowz street gang, along with the woman's son.
Dewar said Amyotte and several gang members decided to try to get some money out of the woman after they crossed paths with her on the street while she was looking for her son.
They took the woman to a home on the belief her son would be there. Then, they pulled out guns and held them to her head.
The gang members told the woman she hadn't "thanked them" for looking after her boy when he was in prison by ensuring he wouldn't be attacked by other inmates.
Amyotte initially demanded $10,000, then changed it to $40,000 when she said she could only offer a few hundred dollars.
The men beat her with the butt ends of their guns, fracturing her left sinus cavity. They also hit her with a set of weights and a pipe, poked her in the eye socket and said she and her family would be killed.
The woman convinced the men to drive her to the restaurant where she worked so she could get some cash. She ran for help as soon as she was let out of the car.
Two others charged in connection with the 2007 beating remain before the courts.
Amyotte recently made headlines for refusing to testify in a high-profile murder trial.
Phil Haiart died in October 2005 after getting caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout in the West End. Jeffrey Cansanay was convicted last month of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Cory Spence was convicted of the same charge as a youth, but raised to adult court and given life in prison.
Amyotte and another gang member, Gharib Abdullah, were the targets of the bullets that hit Haiart. Cansanay previously went on trial in 2007 but was cleared by a judge who refused to allow videotaped police statements from Amyotte and Abdullah to be played in court when they both remained silent in the witness box. The Manitoba Court of Appeal later overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge had erred.
Abdullah and Amyotte were cited for contempt of court and received precedent-setting prison terms -- four years for Amyotte, three-and-a-half for Abdullah.
Both men testified when Cansanay's second trial began this spring. Abdullah told jurors he saw Cansanay open fire on him and Amyotte. Amyotte said he was in hiding at the time and didn't see anything.