A P.E.I. man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he killed his girlfriend in 2015 could be facing a 12-year sentence as a judge considers whether to accept a joint recommendation.
If she accepts it, the sentence for Joel Lawrence Clow would be higher than any ever given for manslaughter in P.E.I.
Clow appeared before Justice Terri MacPherson in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown Monday where the defence and Crown made their sentencing submissions.
Last week, Clow pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Traci Lynch, who he killed in the early hours of July 24, 2015, in Pleasant Grove.
Before either lawyer started their submissions, the court heard from two of Lynch’s family members, including her mother, who prepared a victim impact statement that someone read for her.
Norma Lynch’s statement said her daughter loved watching her son play hockey, but she couldn’t be there to see him when he started to play ball in 2016.
“That choice was taken from her,” Norma said.
In 2017, Justice Nancy Key found Clow guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.
During the trial, Clow admitted his actions caused Traci’s death, but the defence argued he didn’t have the necessary intent to kill her for it to be considered murder.
The police found her body in a wheelbarrow covered with items that included a pillow, a tarp, a blanket, fishing tubs and a rain slicker.
The P.E.I. Court of Appeal overturned Key’s decision and sent the matter back to trial.
On Monday, the court heard Norma had to tell Traci’s son what Clow did.
“There are no words to explain how this felt.”
Norma said she would never forgive Clow for what he did to Traci’s family.
In making the joint recommendation, Crown attorney John Diamond said he considered that Clow had a trial that ended with an appeal and a new trial ordered.
A retrial would further traumatize the victim’s family and there was no guarantee as to the outcome, Diamond said.
With the 12-year sentence, Clow wouldn’t get any credit for his time already spent in custody.
Defence lawyer Kent Brown said Clow’s sentence would work out to be greater than 12 years and would be at the top of the range for manslaughter convictions.
Brown said 12 years is higher than any previous sentence for manslaughter in P.E.I. and is in range with similar offences in other provinces in the region.
Before the proceedings finished Monday, Clow stood at the defence table with his back to everyone in the gallery as he addressed the court, saying there was nothing he could say that will change anything that happened.
Several of Traci’s family members could heard crying in the courtroom as Clow spoke and said he couldn’t imagine what Traci’s family has been through.
Clow will be back in court July 8 to hear MacPherson’s decision on the sentence.