‘I wish I could take her place,’ says husband of murdered Surrey hockey mom

As the preliminary inquiry for the man accused of killing Julie Paskall begins, her husband says he still blames himself.

Al Paskall

If he could somehow turn back the clock, Al Paskall wouldn’t hesitate.

He would return to the night of Dec. 29, 2013 and instead of his wife, he would be the one to go pick up his son from hockey.

Al was at Surrey Provincial Court Tuesday (Jan. 27) to attend the first day of a preliminary hearing for Yosef Jomo Gopaul, who’s accused of killing Al’s wife, Julie Paskall.

“Somebody has to be here for her,” Al said during a break in the proceedings. “I wasn’t there when I should have been there, so I think that it’s paramount that I should be here now.”

Julie drove to Newton Arena, near 71 Avenue and 136B Street, on Dec. 29, and was walking to get her son when she was attacked. She was taken to hospital, where she died two days later, on Dec. 31, 2013. She was 53.

“I still blame myself a lot for the death,” Al shares. “I could have been there easily, picking my son up instead of her.

“I wish I could take her place.”

Evidence from the preliminary inquiry is subject to a publication ban and cannot be reported. Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to justify a trial.

Most of Tuesday’s testimony came from forensic pathologist Dr. Craig Litwin, who performed the autopsy on Julie.

“It’s stuff you don’t want to hear,” said Al, adding he urged his children not to attend the court proceedings for now. “I’m having a hard enough time keeping it straight in there…”

Al and Julie met in high school. They were married at 19 and went on to have three children. Their two daughters are adults now, and his son is 17.

“We had a great life,” Al says.

Both in their early 50s, he said he and his wife worked hard and were looking forward to retirement together.

Gopaul, 27, was arrested nearly five months after Julie Paskall’s death and charged with second-degree murder. He had reportedly moved to Surrey in fall 2013 from Ontario, where he has a prior criminal record.

Gopaul has not entered a plea to the Surrey murder charge. The preliminary inquiry was scheduled to continue Wednesday.