Court sentences battered woman turned killer to eight years
Thursday, October 29, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Less possible time served and other factors, 57 year old Viola Pook, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to manslaughter of her common-law husband Orlando Vasquez on New Year’s Eve, 2007, will serve eight years’ imprisonment as ordered by Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas.
The term is similar to those imposed on Lavern “Anti-Christ” Longsworth by the Court of Appeal after she successfully proved she was battered by her later victim David White, and on Felicia Chen, whose poor home life eventually led to the drowning of three of her four children.
In Pook’s case she admits to setting Vasquez on fire after throwing a substance on him, but not intending to cause his death.
However, the court has yet to decide how much time will be deducted. Pook has been in custody since January of 2008 as her original charge of murder is not a bailable offence.
Pook was initially convicted of murder in July of 2011 but successfully appealed that decision by a jury and was granted a new trial. The Crown elected, on April 2, 2014, to rearraign her on a lesser charge of manslaughter and on October 13, 2015 she pleaded guilty to that charge.
Sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. on that New Years’ Eve night, Pook set Vasquez on fire, causing several degrees of burns to up to 10% of his body and on January 2, 2009, he died. She would later tell a police officer at the scene, “Dah me ketch ah fire.”
The court listened to the 4 persons who spoke on behalf of Pook about her good character, and Pook’s own statement of remorse for her actions and how sympathetic she was towards the family of Vasquez.
As for her mental state, he reviewed the evidence of psychiatric specialist Bryan Sommerville, who had concluded that Pook was going through battered women syndrome as a result of years of abuse and jealousy, and that because her actions at the time came as a result of what Justice Lucas called “an abnormality of the mind”, the case qualified for manslaughter versus murder, which needs intent to kill.
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