Anthony “John” Custer and his mother Noreen. Photo submitted by Noreen Custer.

A mother who lost her first-born son in a Pelican Narrows beating is reacting to the sentence for his killer, saying “I am glad that at least my son got justice.”

In a recent court appearance in the north-west village, Johnston Linklater received a 10-year sentence after earlier entering a guilty plea to manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Antoine Custer, whose mother Noreen Custer said was best known by his middle name John.

Noreen said when John’s body was found outside in an open area of Pelican Narrows on Nov. 30, 2015 – his death caused by trauma from a beating – he left behind four younger sisters and three younger brothers. John had been working as a seasonal fisherman at the time in the area, which Noreen calls crime-ridden, 20 years after his family moved away.

When MBC contacted Noreen, she did not yet know the sentence because she chose not to attend court, later saying she did not even want to acknowledge the name of her son’s killer.

“I’m not sure how I feel about that because I thought it’d be more years,” she said, indicating she’d expected up to a 15-year sentence. After thinking further, she added “I wanted justice for my son because he deserves that justice.”

The death came as a surprise to Noreen, who said her son was a non-violent man who didn’t go out looking for trouble and got along with everyone he met. She said John was particularly well-liked by his co-workers, who considered him kind and hard-working. Above all else, he was humble, she said. John’s loss was a big loss to his siblings, Noreen said.

“They all got along very well and they miss their brother. Still today they think about him and I can’t say what my kids are going through but I know they’re going through the same feeling of loss,” Noreen said, her voice catching as she spoke.

Locally, she said Linklater had been bragging about killing John before his arrest, and said there is still speculation that there were more people involved.

Linklater is now 19 years old. He had been serving a sentence in the community at the time of John’s death and had not sought bail since his Dec. 3, 2015 arrest. He received two years and 85 days credit for time served.