SURREY, B.C. — The man who has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of hockey mom Julie Paskall hit her with a rock but didn’t intend to kill her, a Crown lawyer says.
Yosef Gopaul was charged with second-degree murder in the death of the woman who’d gone to a Surrey, B.C., arena to pick up her 16-year-old son after he’d refereed a minor hockey game.
Paskall died in hospital two days later, on Dec. 31, 2013.
When asked how hard he threw the rock he answered, ‘Hard enough to knock her out,’ which is all he wanted to do,”’ said Crown lawyer Wendy Stephen, reading from a statement of facts.
“He did not intend to kill her, he only wanted to steal her purse.”
Gopaul, 28, also pleaded guilty on Friday to a robbery at a bus stop two weeks before attacking Paskall.
Stephen presented a joint submission by the Crown and defence for a 12-year sentence for the two crimes, minus credit for pre-trial custody of 18 months.
An autopsy showed Paskall, who was 53, died of cardiac arrhythmia and that her heart disease made her vulnerable.
It found she died from her heart stopping after the blunt force trauma and a hard fall onto the pavement.
A rock the size of a grapefruit was found near her body. DNA from Paskall and an unknown person was discovered on the rock.
That DNA prompted a police operation that led to Gopaul, who confessed both crimes to an undercover officer.
Stephen told the court that Gopaul has 29 criminal convictions going back to age 16 and that six of those were violent crimes, including assault with a weapon.
“These are crimes that have terrorized a community,” she said. “It was a huge event in the community and people continue to feel the effects of the fear that was caused by Mr. Gopaul’s actions.”
Angry residents demanded solutions to the high crime rate as Paskall’s death became the 25th homicide in 2013.
Even before she was killed, the mayor had launched a task force to come up with answers.
Gopaul, who had moved to Surrey from Ontario just eight weeks before Paskall’s death, was arrested and charged in May last year.
After a preliminary hearing in January, Gopaul was ordered to stand trial for Paskall’s murder that took place in the neighbourhood of Newton.
On the second anniversary of her death, the Newton Community Association said little had changed since she’d been killed.
Earlier this week, the federal government announced funding for 100 more RCMP officers in Surrey, and $3.5 million over five for an anti-gang program.
The tragic and senseless crime galvanized police as much as it did the community, said Supt. Dwayne McDonald, officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Supt. Bill Fordy of the Surrey RCMP said in a news release on Friday that several families have been left to deal with the devastation created by Gopaul’s crimes.
“I hope the submissions and guilty plea assist them in their journey towards healing.”