By Peggy Revell on May 15, 2018.
A guilty plea to manslaughter was entered Tuesday by Jessie Robert Dyck for the 2016 death of his girlfriend, Tanya Campbell-Losier in Brooks.
“I wanted justice for Tanya, and I believe we got it,” said Lorraine Campbell, the 19-year-old victim’s mother, outside the Medicine Hat courthouse. “First of all, I really wanted Jessie to take responsibility for his actions, and he has done that. It’s taken two years. It’s been a lot of stress, we’ve been full of anxiety. But he’s done that, and I appreciate that.”
“We got a conviction for Tanya, that’s what we wanted all along. I wanted a conviction for my baby girl.”
The case was originally set for trial by judge and jury this week. Instead, Crown and defence counsel put forward a joint submission of a 21-month jail sentence, reduced to 19-and-a-half months due to pretrial custody, followed by three years of probation.
Family and friends filled up the courtroom, all wearing pink and camouflage ribbons to honour the Campbell-Losier, comforting each other as they stepped up to read victim impact statements.
“It’s the worse pain a human could ever experience is to lose their child,” said Campbell, “Especially mothers and daughters, they usually have this tight bond and Tanya and I were so tight. We had a bond like no other.
Campbell-Losier was remembered for her “light attitude,” how happy and friendly she was, and being an avid horsewoman.
“I just miss her, I miss her with every fibre of my heart and soul, and she’ll never come back to me,” said Campbell. “I’ll never be able to hold her in my arms again and tell her how much I love her, I’ll never see her children, she’ll never have kids, she’ll never ride out in that arena again having me cheer for her.”
According to the agreed statement of facts, the couple had been dating for two years.
On the evening of Feb. 18, 2016, they were drinking and arguing at their residence. Campbell-Losier called police, but when police arrived both denied anything was taking place, and there were no grounds to lay charges. They agreed to be separated for the night, with RCMP taking Campbell-Losier to her mother’s residence.
Despite her mother’s attempt to have her stay, Campbell-Losier left on foot back to go back. By the time she arrived at the residence, Dyck had thrown a number of her personal items out on the yard, and fallen asleep on the couch. Campbell-Losier proceeded to punch Dyck, and a verbal and physical altercation ensued, with Dyck trying to physically force her from the residence.
This included him pushing her with such a force that she fell, hit her head, and lost consciousness. Dyck went to his neighbours asking for help and to call 911.
Emergency services transported a still-unconscious Campbell-Losier to the Brooks hospital, then to Foothills Hospital in Calgary. She was declared brain dead, but was kept on life support so her organs could be donated.
The coroner’s report found she died from blunt force trauma to the brain which caused hemorrhaging and oxygen deprivation.
While there were some elements of self defence, Crown said the push exceeded all reasonable force and not covered by any defence in law.
The joint submission was a “true quid pro quo.”
“The guilty plea was driven by my client,” said defence counsel David Chow, saying 28-year-old Dyck feels an intense amount of remorse for what happened, and the plea is also out of respect for Campbell-Losier’s family.
Chow read a statement on behalf of Dyck and his family, expressing their grief and the impact Tanya’s death has had, saying” she will be forever missed and loved.”
Campbell-Losier’s family also called for more to be done about domestic violence.
Her aunt, Deana Campbell, is in the process of contacting MPs to bring forward “Tanya’s Law” — which calls for stricter laws on how domestic violence is handled, right from the first interaction with police.
Campbell-Losier’s mother also spoke about the forgiveness she has for Dyck, and hope for rehabilitation.
“Because it (forgiveness) frees your heart and soul,” she said. “If you walk around hanging on to that anger and negativity, it will kill you. I feel me, inside dying and I don’t want that. Now that I have justice for Tanya, maybe I can have some closure and maybe this pain will start to recede.”
“I just have got to live with it now and know she’s in my heart forever and ever, for the rest of my life, and then I’ll go and see her and know she’ll be waiting for me.”
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