Article by: By TRACY MCLAUGHLIN, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA
Barrie, Ontario – ANOTHER INNOCENT FAMILY SENTENCED TO LIFE…..
killer said nothing
Last Updated: 2nd November 2009, 3:54am
BARRIE — There is no healing, as long as there is silence.
And the dark silence of Nicolas Bullock, who at the age of 16 stabbed his 14-year-old cousin 13 times in the depths of Lackie’s Bush, is chilling.
Justice Alfred Stong used those words when sentencing Nick, now 19, last month as an adult to life in prison. A jury found him guilty of the “cold, calculated,” killing of young Brayton Bullock March 9, 2006.
But to the very end, this “chilling” teen, who psychiatrists say shows the signs of a budding psychopath, manipulative, cunning and covert, has remained silent.
He sat there in the prisoner’s box each day throughout his trial, with no sign of emotion on his face. And just before sentencing, on his final chance to say something to the grieving family, he declined, silently, through his lawyer.
“His silence is killing us,” says the victim’s father, Colin Bullock.
He clings to a picture of his son in life, grinning.
Silly, happy son, wearing his life jacket as a pair of shorts as he frolics at the beach. It looks like he’s walking on water.
“We need to know why. We need to hear his voice. Something — anything — to explain why he took my boy … my little buddy.”
But there were no words of sadness for the little cousin he stabbed in the back, the head, the chest — with such force that his knife went through bone.
Not a peep.
Incredibly, by law, an accused person does not have to say a thing at his own trial. And despite the millions of dollars it costs the taxpayers to take a case to trial, the Crown is not given the right to question the accused person. His defence lawyer does not have to call a shred of evidence.
The onus is wholly on the Crown to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The jury is left to wonder.
“It’s dead wrong,” Colin says. “If he chooses a trial, he should be ordered to stand on the witness stand and speak up. That’s accountability. But instead, he gets to hide behind his lawyer who is paid with our taxes.”
From the beginning, the silence was agonizing, in many ways.
Initially, the family was not allowed to mention their own son’s name because Brayton and Nick have the same last name. That was to protect the killer’s identity under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“The day my son died is the day he lost his identity,” Colin says. “We all lost our identity.”
They had to hide from the media, the television cameras. The family feared putting something in the paper to announce their son’s funeral.
“We had to walk on eggshells, all to protect Nick. Everything was for Nick.”
About 1,000 people showed up at that funeral. Brayton was loved: Never in trouble, good in sports, good in school — a teacher’s dream student.
“He passed with a 94% average,” says his grandmother, Gail, who proudly shows off his Grade 9 report card.
He was a dreamer, liked to write poetry and loved reading of gallant knights who conquered evil fire-breathing dragons. Brayton was laid out in his coffin in a real knight’s outfit, complete with a sword.
“He was my knight in shining armour,” says his mom, Tammy. “Nobody was going to hurt him again.”
But she had to apologize to his friends about the gaping wound in her son’s head where the knife blade came down with such force that it went through his skull and into his brain.
Brayton will never graduate, but his killer, who refused to go to school and instead dabbled in drugs and alcohol, now gets to go to school, can take art classes, go swimming, play basketball, have pizza nights, while he’s in custody.
“Hmph,” says grandma, “sounds more like summer camp to me.”
The family flinched when they saw the photograph of Nick proudly standing beside his mother after getting his high school diploma recently at Sprucedale youth detention centre. On Nov. 25, he will be back in court when it will be decided where he should serve the rest of his time.
Generally, the rule is once a youth turns 20 (later this month) he must move from a youth facility to an adult penitentiary, but there are always exceptions to the rules.
Just as there is the exception to the rule of an adult sentence for first-degree murder that allows no chance to apply for parole for 25 years. When a youth is sentenced as an adult, he gets to apply for parole in 10 years from the time he was arrested. It means Nick could get out when he is 26 — enough time to get a university education.
“How does all of this stop him from killing again?” Colin asks. “It’s not accountability. It’s not a punishment. It’s a reward.”