Pond Inlet man sentenced to 9 years for manslaughter

Wayne Panipakoocho was found guilty of killing another man in Iqaluit 3 years ago

Iqaluit RCMP are seen here on June 30, 2019, prior to Wayne Panipakoocho’s arrest in the killing of another man in Iqaluit. (Photo courtesy of Joe Hess)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Nunavut judge sentenced Wayne Panipakoocho to nine years for killing Hannas Braun in Iqaluit in the summer of 2019.

Justice Susan Charlesworth broke down the total of 111 months in jail Thursday morning in an Iqaluit courtroom — he faces 108 months for manslaughter and three months for breaking and entering.

Each day of pre-trial custody counts as 1.5 days, and taking into account outstanding jail time for a previous assault, Charlesworth said Panipakoocho has approximately four and a half years left to serve.

Panipakoocho was originally charged with first-degree murder, but Charlesworth found him guilty of manslaughter following a trial in October.

“The loss of Mr. Braun’s family is forever, and it was solely caused by Mr. Panipakoocho,” Charlesworth said in an Iqaluit courtroom Thursday morning.

Panipakoocho shot Braun in both legs with one bullet at close range with a 270 caliber Ruger rifle — which he had stolen from a shack — inside of his aunt’s apartment in the 2600s area of Iqaluit at around 7:25 a.m. on June 30, 2019.

Braun bled out shortly after and police arrested Panipakoocho around noon that same day.

Panipakoocho has been in custody since then.

He’s spent most of his time at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., because he was attacked at Baffin Correctional Centre, Charlesworth said.

Ten days prior to the shooting, Panipakoocho had arrived in Iqaluit from Pond Inlet on a custody sentence for an assault charge where he repeatedly kicked a victim in the head and had a probation order dating back to a previous offence not to drink alcohol or get into legal trouble.

“He obviously made little if any attempt to follow either of those orders that were in effect,” Charlesworth said.

The Crown had argued Panipakoocho should be sentenced to 11 to 13 years in jail, because any reasonable person would understand that firing a powerful gun at close range has the potential to kill somebody, Charlesworth said.

Whereas the defence had argued for six years in jail because Panipakoocho had shown remorse after he learned Braun died, and offered to plead guilty to manslaughter “which would have avoided the trial,” Charlesworth said.

Charlesworth said her decision takes into account aggravating factors, such as the crime being committed with the use of a firearm while he was on probation.

She also received letters from Braun’s family members, some of whom were in attendance in the Iqaluit courtroom, which depicted Braun as “a huge support” to his family and friends.

Charlesworth spoke specifically of a picture drawn by Braun’s daughter of her and her dad at a playground.

As for mitigating factors, Charlesworth said her decision also takes into account his upbringing and the progress that Panipakoocho has made so far.

During his time at the Ontario jail, he joined Bible study classes and “Aboriginal programs,” Charlesworth said, adding that he had good attendance and treated staff well.

“This was a very difficult case and I hope that you continue the work that you’ve been doing,” she said.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by which on

    Any word on if the actual owner of the gun faced any charges for carelessly storing his guns? Not implying that it’s his fault for Panipakoocho’s actions, but it’s still a big deal and I’m just wondering what happened with that. I thought charges were laid, but I’ve never heard anything beyond that.

    • Posted by Dave on

      Nothing in the article indicates a law was broken.

      A trigger lock on the non restricted rifle meets the law. Legal storage for non restricted firearms is not intended to prevent theft.

      Steal my truck and drive over someone, it’s not fault.

      • Posted by which on

        Nothing indicates a law wasn’t broken, either. The gun was stolen from a shack in Apex. Was there shack locked up? Was there a trigger lock? Was it loaded? Was the ammunition with it? When storing non-restricted firearms, the items must be unloaded; and stored away from readily accessible ammunition; and rendered inoperable by means of a secure locking device or the removal of the bolt/bolt-carrier; or stored in a place that is securely locked. I believe charges were initially laid, so perhaps one or more off those requirements not met. I was simply asking about that.

      • Posted by Says on

        “Steal my truck and drive over someone, it’s not fault.”

        Sorry, no, is not so cut and dry. A truck can be used as a weapon, but that is what it is designed to do. Literally the only purpose of a gun is to harm or kill something. That is why that law exists. If someone carelessly stores a firearm, they can be charged. If that information comes to light because the firearm was stolen, so be it.

        • Posted by Dave on

          I said, the purpose of legal storage is not to prevent theft of non restricted firearms.

          How does a trigger lock prevent theft?

          Don’t counter me with your opinion, it’s moot. Counter me with the law.

          • Posted by which on

            No one said it was. If the theft exposes the fact that the law with regard to safe storage of firearms has been broken, a person can be charged. That isn’t an opinion and it isn’t moot. I don’t get why your back is up about that.

  2. Posted by Wasted time on

    It’s sad to me that the best the correctional system can seem to offer is Bible study classes to help reform and heal an individual.

    • Posted by Josywales on

      Totally agree. Bible study proberly got him where he is presently located.

  3. Posted by Huh? on

    “Each day of pre-trial custody counts as 1.5 days?”

    The math doesnt add up

    • Posted by Alan Klie on

      Because you’re not entitled to the 2/3ds release time for sentencing when you’re on remand, if your remand time is counted towards your sentence then it’s count as 1.5 days for every day on remand, or part of a day. It’s so that the time you spent in remand that’s now being counted towards your sentence is counted the same as if you were sentenced the day you were taken into custody.

  4. Posted by No Justice on

    The light sentences imposed by the court and this judge in particular continues to be troubling.

    • Posted by Justice system in Nunavut is startling on

      This is so sad.
      It really bothers me that more killers are out and about with no consequences when those that commit lighter crimes get put in jails for long periods with heavy conditions to follow.

      What can Nunavummiut do to make sure proper justice takes place?

      • Posted by 867 on

        2 words: Gladue Principle


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