Hamilton man sentenced to 5 years for stabbing death of son of former NHL star

Hamilton man sentenced to 5 years for stabbing death of son of former NHL star

Family members of Brock Beck sobbed in the gallery of a Hamilton courtroom Monday as the man who fatally stabbed him in a Binbrook road rage incident was sentenced to five years in prison.

Thomas Vasquez, 23, will serve 1,825 days, less 492 days for time served, for stabbing Beck in the abdomen during a confrontation after a party. Vasquez, who stood and faced the family to express his remorse, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

“I didn’t want to bring sorrow to your family or bring shame to my mine. This was a random encounter that should never have happened, and it was one of those situations that escalated quickly,” Vasquez told the family, which includes Beck’s father, former NHL star Barry Beck, who retired in 1990 after 13 years as an NHL defenceman.’

The full details around what led to the death of Beck, 20, will likely never be publicly known.

It was early on July 26, 2020, when Vasquez and three friends left a Binbrook house party. They encountered Beck and a 16-year-old friend in another vehicle, and there was a “verbal confrontation,” the court heard. 

The occupants of the two cars were strangers, and “what was said and who initiated it are unknown,” said Justice Amanda Camara, reading from an agreed statement of facts. Most of the people involved were drunk, and Vasquez was asleep in the car when the first tense words were exchanged.

Beck drove to the driveway of a friend’s house, the court heard, and the other vehicle followed him and pulled in behind him. At some point, Beck got a broken golf club from the trunk and hit Vasquez with it, and Vasquez drew a knife. It’s not clear which happened first.

Vasquez stabbed Beck twice in the abdomen — once on the left side, once on the right. The right stab wound damaged several organs. 

Police say they were called to 3063 Binbrook Rd. just before 2 a.m. ET.

Beck later died in hospital.

COVID-19 plays a role in sentence

Four people initially faced charges related to the incident. Petar Kunic, 19, of Stoney Creek, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing bodily harm. The Crown withdrew charges against Albin Gashi, 18, of Stoney Creek, and Cam-Thai Khath, 18, also of Stoney Creek.

Vasquez’s lawyer, Dean Paquette, argued for a sentence of 3.5 years less time served. Vasquez has no criminal record and comes from a stable, loving family, he said.

He also said COVID-19 has made life harder for Vasquez at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre. Since November, he has spent 110 days in lockdown and 43 in a triple bunk.

“He has no criminal record. He pled guilty, and he did not intentionally cause Mr. Beck’s death,” Paquette said. Also, “he is profoundly remorseful for what he has done.”

Assistant Crown attorney Gord Akilie argued that COVID-19 didn’t change what Vasquez did, and reminded that he wasn’t arrested until four months later. At one point, Beck’s family even offered a reward for leads.

No closure

“What we do know is he took out that knife and stabbed this young man in the abdomen,” said Akilie, who asked for five to seven years.

“He used a weapon, and he also used a weapon in a manifestly dangerous way … If you stab someone in the vital organs, in the abdomen, you’re playing with fire.”

Camara agreed that COVID-19 should play a factor in the sentence.

Barry Beck, centre, is shown with Team Canada teammate Larry Robinson, left, celebrating a Guy Lafleur goal against USSR during the Canada Cup series in Montreal on Sept. 13, 1981. (Bill GrimshawThe Canadian Press)

Vancouver-born Barry Beck, 64, played for Colorado Rockies and New York Rangers before ending his career with Los Angeles Kings in 1990.

On Oct. 14, he shared a Facebook memory that showed him getting a tattoo on his arm of his son’s face. 

“There’ll never be closure,” he wrote, just days before Vasquez’s sentencing. “Just have to learn how to live with it.”

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