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Sentencing underway for Surrey mother convicted of murdering young daughter
Sentencing is now underway for Lisa Batstone, who was convicted earlier this year of second-degree murder in the killing of her eight year-old daughter, Teagan.
Teagan’s body was found in the back of a car in South Surrey on Dec. 10, 2014. In her ruling finding Batstone guilty this March, Justice Catherine Murray told the court how Batstone had put a plastic bag over her sleeping child’s mouth and nose at their home, and suffocated her.
“The killing was deliberate. It involved some choices and decisions. It involved effort,” Murray said.
Prosecutor Chris McPherson told the court the Crown is asking for 16 to 18 years before parole eligibility. He said Teagan was a vulnerable, defenceless child sleeping in the place where she should have been safest.
“The Crown submits the enormity of this crime is almost impossible to comprehend,” McPherson said.
Teagan’s father, Gabe Batstone, was the first to read a victim impact statement.
“In some ways, the impact of this crime is quite simple: seven decades of beautiful Teagan’s life,” Gabe said, and added it’s not only the loss of significant milestones like birthdays and school, but “the far more mundane losses” like trips to the park, hugs, and spending time together that are haunting.
“For me, the worst pain is seeing the two people Teagan loved most, her brothers, suffer such profound grief, sadness, confusion, shame, guilt, anger, embarrassment and sorrow,” he said. Teagan’s two brothers are now seven and 13, and Gabe said after her murder they asked questions such as: “Why is my sister in the ground when other kids have sisters at school?” and “Why didn’t you save Teagan?”
“The life of a happy, empathetic, funny, caring, innocent, athletic, sensitive and loving child was taken for no reason,” he said. “There can be no joy without pain, no holiday without sorrow, no event without regret and no day without sadness.”
Teagan’s stepmother, Stephanie Batstone, also delivered a victim impact statement. She noted Teagan would have been turning 13 in a few weeks, the same age as her brother Stewart.
“Lisa Batstone took his sister, his best friend, and his childhood,” she said. “He is now very alone in this world.”
Stephanie said their lives changed the day Teagan was killed, and added they miss her every day.
Teagan’s brother, Jack, also submitted a victim impact statement, in the form of a drawing. On the Facebook page for the non-profit created in Teagan’s memory, Gabe shared the picture, and said it shows Jack crying and a drawing of Teagan with some of her favourite things, including a butterfly.
Outside court, Gabe said he hopes justice will be served.
“I just hope that her brothers are adults before they have to know that the person who killed their sister is walking free,” he said.
The defence is asking for 10 years before parole eligibility. Lawyer Rebecca McConchie said they feel the appropriate range is 10 to 12, and added Batstone is already being handed one of the harshest sentences in Canadian law. McConchie told the court Batstone has a long history of mental illness, which the defence believes should be viewed as a mitigating factor. McConchie added Batstone has no history of violence, has shown remorse and is a good candidate for rehabilitation.
Defence lawyer Eric Gottardi also read excerpts of letters submitted in support of Lisa Batstone, including from members of the White Rock Baptist Church. He said she has completed courses on topics such as healthy relationships and family healing, and is “trying to improve herself”.
Batstone also read a statement in court.
“I’m sorry to Teagan for causing her to live such a short life on earth,” she said, and also apologized to Teagan’s father and the rest of her family.
“Being her mama was the best part of my entire life,” she said. “Each morning I wake up to an excruciating nightmare and I don’t know how this is real.”
“I cannot believe that I did what I did, but I know her death is my fault.”
Batstone’s conviction carries an automatic life sentence. Parole eligibility can range from between 10 to 25 years.
In a video-taped police interview released by the court in February, Batstone told officers with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team she wanted her daughter to “sleep with Jesus." She also referenced Teagan’s father a number of times throughout the two-hour interview.
“I wanted to die and I didn’t wanna abandon her and leave her to him,” Batstone told one of the officers.
In December, Gabe testified about how he had shared custody with Batstone, but said communication with her was challenging and sometimes combative. He told the court how he tried to get temporary custody of Teagan following a suicide attempt by Batstone in 2012, but was unsuccessful.
The judge will make a decision on parole eligibility on Sept. 3.