Man sentenced to life in prison for 2017 murder of Cape Breton businessman

·3 min read
Sydney financial planner and real estate developer Jim Matthews. (Submitted - image credit)
Sydney financial planner and real estate developer Jim Matthews. (Submitted - image credit)

A New Waterford, N.S., man has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years in the murder of a Sydney businessman four years ago.

Aaron Shaun Young, 32, showed little emotion Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court as Justice Robin Gogan handed down her sentence.

The victim, 54-year-old Jim Matthews, was found dead inside his apartment in the Prince Street Market building he owned in downtown Sydney.

According to court records, video cameras in Matthews's building showed Young going in with Matthews on the night of Aug. 27, 2017, and leaving alone 24 minutes later.

Senseless, avoidable murder, says Crown

The financial planner and real estate developer was found dead two days later after friends and family became concerned about his whereabouts.

Matthews received at least 27 injuries and his blood was found throughout the apartment.

"This was a murder that was senseless. This was a murder that was avoidable," Crown prosecutor Shane Russell told the court.

"The Crown considers it to be animalistic to reach that level of violence on another human being."

Investigators later found Young's fingerprint on a glass inside Matthews's home.

Russell noted Young took a phone belonging to Matthews and $40 on his way out the door. If Matthews survived the attack, he would not have been able to call for help, he said.

Pleaded guilty 3 months ago

Three months ago, Young pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Matthews's death. A robbery charge was dropped, but the admission brought with it a mandatory life sentence.

The Crown and the defence jointly recommended Young serve 10 years before being eligible for parole, which the judge accepted. Since Young has been in custody since his 2017 arrest, he will be able to apply for parole in six years.

This is not the first time Young has been in trouble with the law. A decade ago, he was sentenced for leaving the scene of a fatal crash on Lingan Road.

He also has convictions for assault, resisting arrest, break and enter and theft.

His defence lawyer said that in the weeks leading up to the murder of Matthews, Young was homeless and had fallen back into a cocaine addiction. He was arrested the day after the murder on a series of unrelated offences.

Family and friends make statements

Gogan said there was no explanation for Young's violence.

Nine victim impact statements were read in court by friends and family of Matthews, who was described as someone who saw the silver linings in life.

His sister, Beth Harbin, described him as the "golden only boy" in a family of seven siblings — six of whom were women.

"Jim was a very special person," said another sister, Joanne Jardine. "[He would] captivate a room full of people in such a quiet manner."

The court also heard from Stella Couban, the sister of Matthews's partner of 31 years, Dr. Stephen Couban, who died in 2019.

She said her brother died a "broken man with a shattered heart" and was tormented by the many unknowns surrounding Matthews's death.

Young "robbed all of the goodness [Stephen] had to offer," she said.

"[Stephen] never achieved a sense of peace or understanding."

In a letter read to the court by his lawyer, Young said he has difficulty expressing his feelings, but is remorseful for his actions.

"I know it is little comfort to the family to say I am haunted by this," he said.

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