After a decade in prison, a 33-year-old man will have to choose between staying in a Canadian jail or applying for his parole and likely being deported to Somalia.
Bashir “Donovan” Gaashaan, 33, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 10 years on Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and committing an indignity to human remains on Monday.
Jenna Cartwright, 21, was killed on March 30, 2011. Her body was dumped in a treed area east of Olds, about six metres from a rural road. Justice Read said when the body was found more than a month later, it had been scavenged by wild animals.
Gaashaan, a Somalian refugee who came to Canada in 1993, faces potential deportation back to Somalia upon his release from jail.
“You may be deprived of your ability to remain in Canada,” said Justice Donna Read.
“That’s terrible, but that’s what happens.”
Read imposed the minimum wait of 10 years for a parole application for a second-degree-murder conviction. She said Gaashaan has shown remorse and has made steps to improve his life while in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre for the last four years.
Cartwright’s friends and family sat and watched as Read handed down her sentence. Gaashaan, wearing a grey hoodie, glasses and leg irons, stared silently as he learned his punishment.
“No sentence I can impose can ever bring her back or lessen the pain Bashir Gaashaan has caused the family,” said Read in her sentence decision.
An anxious and paranoid reaction to a belief of missing drugs led Gaashaan to strangle Cartwright, who left behind her daughter.
Both were drinking alcohol and consuming cocaine and crack cocaine on March 30, 2011. Gaashaan left the room, leaving Cartwright alone. When he returned he searched for the drugs he thought were missing and Cartwright followed him into another room and jumped on Gaashaan’s back.
Gaashaan, in a rage, flipped Cartwright onto the ground and strangled her manually.
Cartwright screamed. To quiet her, Gaashaan balled-up a shirt and shoved it into her mouth.
The autopsy performed later, said her death was caused by strangulation and gagging.
In a panic, Gaashaan rolled Cartwright’s partially dressed body into a duvet. When his roommate came home and discovered the body in the basement, Gaashaan loaded Cartwright’s lifeless body into a borrowed vehicle and drove south on the QEII.
Because he couldn’t dig in the frozen ground, he dumped her remains near a rural road.
Cartwright was reported missing by her family on April 12, 2011. Her remains were found on May 3, 2011.
It wasn’t until June 17, 2011 that police caught up with Gaashaan. He had fled to Ontario, where he has relatives. He was arrested in Thunder Bay and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.
He was interviewed by RCMP about Cartwright’s murder and acknowleged his guilt in his statement to police. He was flown back to Alberta and put into protective custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre, where he has been for the past four years.
A three week Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench judge and jury trial was scheduled to start on Monday, but Gaashaan chose to plead guilty before the trial started.
Read said his pre-sentence custody does not count towards his parole eligibility. Additional orders including an order to provide a sample of his DNA, a lifetime weapons prohibition and the forfeiture of all offence-related material were also ordered.