South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone – found guilty in March of second-degree murder in her daughter Teagan’s December 2014 death – should have to wait 16 to 18 years before she can apply for parole, Crown counsel said Wednesday.
The facts of the case, prosecutor Christopher McPherson argued during a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, “lie squarely within the highest range of parole ineligibility.”
“The enormity of this crime is almost impossible to comprehend,” McPherson said.
Defence counsel Rebecca McConchie agreed the offence was “one of the worst crimes,” but submitted an ineligibility term of 10 years was appropriate, noting “unless Miss Batstone is able to establish that she is fit for release, she will remain in jail for the rest of her life.”
Crown says South Surrey mother who killed daughter should spend 16-18 years in jail before being eligible to apply for parole.
— Peace Arch News (@PeaceArchNews) June 12, 2019
The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence. Lawyers Wednesday made submissions on just how long Batstone – who smothered Teagan with a plastic bag – should remain ineligible for parole. Justice Catherine Murray heard victim-impact statements from Teagan’s dad and stepmom, Gabe and Stephanie Batstone.
Gabe Batstone told Murray he is haunted every day by all the little things he can no longer share with his daughter: trips to the grocery store and the park, and comforting her among them.
“I miss everything, and that never goes away,” he told Murray.
He said he is angered at the impact Teagan’s murder has had on his two young sons, describing the boys’ sadness, confusion, survivor’s guilt and more.
He also expressed concern with the court process.
“Often not seen and difficult to prepare for is the slowness of this process,” he told the court. “Four years later, just days before Father’s Day, I sit reliving the worst day of my life…”
Lisa Batstone, now 46, was charged after eight-year-old Teagan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in a cul-de-sac off Crescent Road on Dec. 10, 2014.
In finding Batstone guilty in March, Murray – noting the only issue for her to rule on was whether Batstone “had the requisite intent for second-degree murder” – found “the killing was deliberate.”
“The accused’s actions were purposeful and goal-driven,” Murray said.
During trial, prosecutors pointed to the fact that Batstone never called 911, and that she left notes that read “I’m so sorry,” as well as a four-page letter with phrases that included, “I couldn’t imagine leaving here and leaving her to him,” as evidence that made it clear Batstone had intended to kill Teagan.
In her reasons for judgment, Murray also noted that Batstone “did nothing to try to save” Teagan.
Wednesday, Stephanie Batstone told the court of how, for two weeks after telling her sons that Teagan’s mom had killed their sister, her youngest son was scared to be alone with her.
“He thought I killed Teagan,” she reiterated outside court. “To him, I was Teagan’s mother.”
'Why didn't you save Teagan?' Father of murdered South Surrey 8-year-old shares young son's fears in victim-impact statement.
— Peace Arch News (@PeaceArchNews) June 12, 2019
The couple also spoke of being in fear of Lisa Batstone. Stephanie Batstone said she worries Teagan’s mom “will try to harm one of us once she is released from prison.”
“The only thing that has changed since Teagan’s death is the knowledge that Lisa Batsone is capable of murder,” she told the court.
Gabe Batstone described the Crown’s suggested ineligibility period as “a reasonable ask,” but said he would like to see his ex-wife “spend the rest of her life” behind bars.
In arguing for a 10-year ineligibility period, McConchie agreed that aggravating factors included Teagan’s age, vulnerability and the position of trust Lisa Batstone was in as a parent.
She noted Batstone’s mental-health struggles, that the act of smothering Teagan wasn’t the culmination of years of abuse or premeditated, and that it was less violent than in other cases of filicide cited by Crown.
“There’s no evidence suggesting anything other than Teagan never knew what was happening,” McConchie said.
McConchie said mitigating factors include Batstone’s diminished mental capacity. As well, that Batstone has shown “genuine and deep remorse since almost immediately after” Teagan’s death.
McConchie noted no sentence will be greater punishment than what Batstone has brought on herself.
“The consequences this court can inflict are nothing compared to the consequences she’s already living through.”
Lisa Batstone also addressed the court. Standing to read from a prepared statement, she said she would give anything to go back and change what happened that day.
Crying, she said she wakes each morning to “an excruciating nightmare, and I don’t know how this happened.”
“I miss my sweet girl so much.”
She apologized to Teagan’s dad, stepmom, brothers and all who knew and loved her daughter.
“Teagan loved all of you, I know you all loved her. I’m so very sorry.”
Murray said she will render a sentence on Sept. 3.