A Kamloops man who disposed of his deceased roommate next to a dumpster outside his North Kamloops apartment building after hiding it inside for weeks will spend the next six months under 24/7 house arrest.
Shane Brownlee, 52, was handed a two-year conditional sentence order and six months’ probation for interference with a dead body. The sentence was delivered by Judge Ray Phillips in a Kamloops provincial courtroom on Friday (March 26).
On Nov. 29, 2019, the body of Brownlee’s roommate, David Boltwood, 65, was found rolled up in a carpet behind 170 Carson Cres.
Police initially suspected a homicide, but an autopsy later determined Boltwood died of natural causes.
Brownlee had invited Boltwood — who was homeless and had health issues — to stay with him in his apartment unit in October 2019. Brownlee said he returned home one day after Nov. 7 to find Boltwood deceased — and he panicked. He wrapped Boltwood in the rug, which he later placed in a large cardboard box, hiding the body in his apartment unit and in a storage locker before disposing of it outside with the help of a teenager, who was unaware what he was actually moving.
Brownlee then fled the province and was arrested in Jasper, Alta. He pleaded guilty to moving the body, but was adamant he didn’t kill his roommate.
Phillips found Brownlee’s judgment was clouded by extreme anxiety and other ongoing health issues, compounded by a pending eviction, his addiction to alcohol and marijuana, a fear of being blamed for Boltwood’s death and trepidation about being sent back to jail. Brownlee had served time in the previous five years for property crimes.
As part of Friday’s sentence, Brownlee will spend the next six months under house arrest 24 hours a day, with the exception of being allowed to grocery shop and attend appointments between noon and 2 p.m. He can also be out of the house from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for volunteer work, with written permission, and in case of emergency. The final 18 months of his conditional sentence order has no curfew.
As part of his sentence, Brownlee must attend treatment programs as directed, refrain from drug and alcohol use, complete 50 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to Boltwood’s family.
He is also to have no contact with the teenager he recruited to dispose of Boltwood’s body.
In rendering his verdict, Phillips noted Brownlee expressed genuine remorse for his actions, has since turned his life around by engaging in treatment for his addictions and volunteer work and has been forgiven by Boltwood’s family, who did not wish to see him go to jail.
“I was struck by the words of the deceased’s brother, Benjamin, who, after hearing submissions of counsel and learning of the significant turnaround Mr. Brownlee has made, that this in some small way honours the death of his brother and that his brother would be proud of the steps taken by Mr. Brownlee to turn things around,” Phillips said.
Phillips, however, noted the severity of the offence and that Brownlee recruited a minor, who was traumatized when he later learned he helped move the body.
“Mr. Brownlee literally and figuratively discarded the dead body of Mr. Boltwood like a piece of garbage,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he felt the sentence reflected both the gravity of the offence and the steps Brownlee has made to turn his life around which, from the judge’s point of view, has been “a 180-degree shift.”
Both the Crown and defence sought conditional sentence orders for Brownlee, with prosecutor Camille Cook calling for two years, followed by three years of probation, while defence lawyer Kristjan Thorsteinson asked for six months to a year, followed by a year probation.
The maximum sentence Brownlee could have received was up to five years in jail.
Boltwood’s autopsy revealed he died of complications from emphysema. Bed sores on his body indicated he was immobile before his death, but there were no other physical signs of injury.