Crown asking for three years in Penticton manslaughter case - InfoNews

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Crown asking for three years in Penticton manslaughter case

The sentencing hearing for Kiera Bourque, who pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter in the death of her then boyfriend Devon Blackmore,( left in photo) in April, 2017, took place in Penticton court today, Sept. 18, 2020.
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September 18, 2020 - 1:40 PM

A Penticton woman awaits her fate as she faces sentencing on a charge of manslaughter in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton.

Kiera S. Bourque entered a guilty plea to the charge in January of this year.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Vandersluys told court today, Sept. 18, Bourque was in a relationship with Devon Blackmore in April of 2017.

Blackmore, 17 at the time, was a high school student and had been dating Bourque, who was 20, for three months.

Blackmore was spending a night at Bourque’s residence, unknown to his parents, who had been told he was staying at a friend’s place.

Bourque had suffered a spinal injury playing field hockey in 2017 and began using street drugs to deal with the pain, morphine in particular.

Blackmore didn’t habitually use hard drugs, but during spring break in 2017 he became ill. He didn’t seek hospital treatment and was staying with Bourque on the night of April 1.

Two friends who visited the couple that night said Blackmore looked very ill, but Blackmore was under the impression he had the flu.

That night, Bourque said Blackmore asked for an injection of morphine, even though he had suffered a bad reaction from using it once before.

She injected him with “a little bit” of morphine that night, and then again on the morning of April 2.

Blackmore collapsed with seizures a short time later that morning. Bourque called 911 and was given instructions for CPR, but when paramedics arrived, they found no pulse and Blackmore’s body cold to the touch.

An autopsy revealed Blackmore had been suffering from severe pneumonia, and without treatment the affliction would likely have been fatal.

He was also found to have a high concentration of morphine in the blood, with levels "in keeping with an overdose and a fatal outcome.”

Bourque provided a statement to police admitting to injecting Blackmore twice, as well as to being aware of the potentially fatal effects of the shot. She said she loved him, and did not wish to harm him.

Vandersluys said Bourque had been drug and alcohol free for the past two years and was seeing a psychiatrist. She had no prior criminal record and has complied with all her bail conditions, but pre-sentence and psychiatric reports indicated Bourque still has an “apparent lack of insight” into the incident and takes little to no responsibility for her choices.

The prosecutor said Blackmore’s youthful age, and the position of helplessness he was in that night, were aggravating factors, asking Judge Gary Weatherill for a three year sentence.

“How does a parent put into words the pain their child’s death has on their lives? Our worst nightmare became our reality on April 2, 2017. I will grieve for my son until my last breath,” Lorrie Blackmore, the victim's mother, said as she read from her victim impact statement. "I am tired of trying to figure out how I’m going to get through his next birthday without him here. I’m broken-hearted trying to protect my daughter from grief."

Defence lawyer Paul Varga said his client used morphine only for pain management after the medical system “failed to control her pain.”

He also pointed out the coroner’s diagnosis of Blackmore having necrotizing pneumonia, which, left untreated, could well have been fatal.

Varga said his client provided the two morphine injections upon Blackmore’s request and was not aware he had a previous bad reaction. He said Bourque's early guilty plea was a mitigating factor.

“She provided a sworn statement, and never tried to minimize her role in the injections. She assisted Crown and the police in finding out what happened,” Varga said.

He said his client’s substance abuse issues were now largely resolved and she would likely continue with counselling for the rest of her life, calling those actions evidence of accepting responsibility for the incident.

He also introduced several letters of support for Bourque that spoke of her love for Devon, her ongoing pain, her struggles with anxiety and depression, her volunteer efforts and her future goals.

Varga argued for suspended sentence of three years, saying his client had no intention of ever harming Blackmore.

The charge of manslaughter currently does not allow for a conditional sentence.

But Vandersluys said in response to Varga’s remarks, a suspended sentence was appropriate only towards the ‘accident’ end of the sentencing spectrum. He said in this case, even though Bourque did not intend to harm Blackmore, she nonetheless knew of the inherent dangers and risk imposed in providing the morphine to Blackmore.

Judge Weatherill called it a very difficult case, with a "considerable number of factors I need to consider."

“The sentence I impose must be fit and proper, all things considered, I will need some time to properly consider these submissions. It will come as no surprise I will not be able to give you my decision today,” the judge said.

The judge said he would be taking some time to think and reflect, with the expectation of a return to court next Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. to deliver a decision.

— This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. Sept. 18, 2020 to add new information from the sentencing hearing.

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