April 19, 2022
A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the gas-and-dash death of an Alberta gas station owner has been granted day parole.
Mitchell Robert Sydlowski, 31, was sentenced in September 2020 to seven years in prison for the death of 54-year-old Ki Yun Jo.
An agreed statement of facts said Jo was killed when Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel. It happened outside Jo’s Fas Gas station in Thorsby, about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, on Oct. 6, 2017.
Documents released Tuesday by the Parole Board of Canada show Sydlowski, who is from Spruce Grove, Alta., was granted day parole on March 31 for six months.
“It is the board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released on day parole and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen,” the board writes in its decision.
The board notes, however, that it did consider his conviction.
“The impact on the victim’s family and the overall community is not overlooked. Serious harm criteria was met, as the victim lost his life.”
In a conversation with the board, the documents say, Sydlowski linked his actions to drug use, isolating himself from his supports and not considering that his actions would take someone’s life.
“You agree you stole a high number of vehicles during this time and planned to steal fuel in order to get to your destination. You were high on methamphetamine (meth) at the time.”
The board says Sydlowski completed several programs while he was in custody, has positive support in the community and plans to continue treatment for substance abuse.
As part of his release plan, he is to stay at an unidentified community-based residential facility. He must also stay away from alcohol and drugs, isn’t allowed to drive and cannot contact the victim’s family.
Jo’s daughter, Ka Yung Jo, said in a victim impact statement at Sydlowski’s sentencing in 2020 that her father’s death was the worst day of her life.
“My dad was senselessly and cruelly taken away from me,” she said. “Since then, my world has changed completely.”
She said she, her mother and her brother had to take over the gas station and had a difficult time running the business. They ended up selling it and moving away.
Sydlowski expressed remorse for his actions during the same hearing.
“I am so sorry for the pain I have caused your family,” he said. “I did not intend for any of this to happen.”
Sydlowski was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, as well as to failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident. His sentence was reduced by about three years for time served before his guilty plea.
The judge also imposed a 10-year driving ban.