‘A difficult life’: Victim of fatal motel beating was taking break from homelessness

When he was beaten to death in a Calgary motel, 66-year-old Harry (Frank) Jones was frail, sick and essentially bedridden.

He and his roommate, Dale Topalinski, 60, were taking a break from homelessness in March 2019 and staying in a two-bedroom suite the Red Carpet Inn after Jones had recently come into some money. 

Topalinski was convicted of manslaughter last year. His sentencing hearing began Thursday with provincial court Judge Paul Mason reserving his decision to a later date.

Jones was vulnerable and ill at the time of his death, suffering from heart disease, alcoholism and mobility issues.

“Frank had a difficult life but he never made it heavy for those around him,” said the victim’s sister in a statement read aloud in court.

‘Rage-filled attack’

Topalinski had been helping him with his daily needs. 

It’s unclear why Topalinski attacked his friend, but the victim suffered blunt force injuries all over his body, including several broken limbs.

“Jones was killed in an emotional and rage-filled attack” Mason ruled in convicting Topalinski.

Topalinski should spend nine to 10 years in prison, argued prosecutor Richelle Freiheit on Thursday.

“There needs to be a message not to victimize vulnerable elderly people,” said Freiheit.

‘Early years peppered with difficulties’

But defence lawyer Andre Ouellette suggested to the judge that his client spend five to eight years behind bars.

Ouellette pointed out that Topalinski, an Indigenous man, is the victim of intergenerational trauma, a fact confirmed by the Gladue report.

Freiheit acknowledged Topalinski suffered “early years peppered with difficulties” but also pointed out he has a history of crimes, including convictions for violence.

“Mr. Topalinski can hardly say that he comes before this court with clean hands,” she said.

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