CALGARY — A Calgary woman wept as she was sentenced Monday to two additional years in a federal prison for pushing a Calgary teen to a grisly death between two cars of a light-rail transit train.
Natalie Pasqua had pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shoving 17-year-old Gage Prevost off the train platform during a fight over a $10 drug deal.
Before the sentence was handed down, she apologized to Prevost’s family, her voice faint and shaking.
“I pray for you, not to forgive me but to have some kind of peace in your lives,” she said.
“I did not know him. And I did not mean for him to die, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Pasqua, who is now 28, was initially convicted of second-degree murder, but successfully argued on appeal that the judge made a mistake in the charge to the jury.
Prevost’s father broke down as he described how he had to identify his son’s mutilated body at the medical examiner’s office.
“Seeing Gage lying on that slab … will forever be burned in my memory,” said Dale Prevost.
His voice full of anger, Prevost accused Pasqua of taking away his future grandchildren. Friends and family who packed one side of the courtroom sobbed and passed around tissues as he spoke.
“If only you had just walked away. Why didn’t you? Why didn’t you act as the adult?”
Crown lawyer Bina Border argued that Pasqua should serve another two years on top of the equivalent of three years and four months she has already spent in custody, a recommendation also put forward by defence lawyer Christopher Nowlin.
Border said Pasqua’s actions were reckless and could have led to serious injury or death for any of the people, including children, waiting on the packed train platform during afternoon rush hour.
Court heard that the argument over the drug deal escalated into a physical fight, with both sides pushing and shoving. Prevost pushed Pasqua off the platform onto the empty train tracks but she clambered back up to continue the brawl.
As the train came in to the station, both Prevost and Pasqua continued to push each other, but one shove from Pasqua sent Prevost between two cars where he was crushed to death.
“The type of melee that went on could have caused anybody to be injured,” said Border.
She also said Pasqua has shown little remorse and has, in part, blamed Prevost for his own death.
Nowlin pointed to Pasqua’s extremely troubled childhood in his arguments.
The woman was taken from her parents at a young age and placed in a residential school where she was physically and sexually abused, he said. She has struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.
He said he would have argued for a shorter jail term for Pasqua except that she had a chance to take part in drug and alcohol programming, as well as work with an aboriginal elder, while in a federal penitentiary after her original conviction and wanted to continue taking courses and counselling.
“She wants to become a productive member of society,” he said. “She’s seeking help and she needs it and she believes she’ll best get it at a federal institution.”
Justice Peter McIntyre said while Pasqua is guilty of manslaughter, there were elements of self defence and provocation also present in the struggle that took place on the transit platform.
But Dale Prevost said nothing Pasqua said changed his mind about what happened that day. If she was truly remorseful she never would have appealed her original conviction, he said outside court.
“Gage was such a young man, and he didn’t have the chance to do so many things.”