Anablak received three prior conditional sentences for assaulting woman he strangled to death

Lyall family must wait for killer's sentencing


The family of Sylvia Lyall must now wait until Feb. 28 to learn the fate of the man who put his hands around the neck of their beloved mother, sister and aunt and strangled her to death.

In a plea bargain, Pat Anablak, 54, pleaded guilty Feb. 15 to a charge of manslaughter for killing Lyall, a 41-year-old mother of four, in June of 2004.

But after hearing sentencing arguments from lawyers, Justice Robert Kilpatrick will wait until Feb. 28 to sentence him.

Andy Mahar, Anablak's lawyer, Mahar said his client doesn't remember killing Lyall, but accepts that he is the only person who could have strangled her.

"Is this your wish?" Kilpatrick asked Anablak, who wore the same navy blue track suit he wore in previous court appearances.

"Yes, your honour," he replied.

Mahar said his client drank heavily with Lyall the week before her death.

On June 20, 2004, the day she was last seen, Lyall and Anablak planned to go to Sylvia Grinnell Park for a barbecue but didn't because they were drinking, Mahar said.

Mahar said Anablak recalls waking up on the bathroom floor afterwards and finding Lyall dead in the bedroom of her Iqaluit apartment.

Mahar said Anablak then prayed over Lyall's body and began drinking again.

Police found her body about two days later, on June 22, after worried family members phoned and asked them to check on her.

"He was afraid to call the police because he was afraid they would take her out of the house," Mahar said.

Through Mahar, Anablak told Lyall's family he's "deeply sorry" and doesn't seek forgiveness.

"He [Anablak] does not bear anybody any ill will for the anger they feel toward him."

Before he killed her, Anablak had been convicted three times for assaulting Lyall, Crown lawyer Brian Bell said.

On each conviction, he received a conditional sentence, which he means he served no jail time: three months conditional in May of 2004, nine months conditional in November of 2003, and nine months conditional in July of 2003.

Mahar and Bell couldn't agree on how much credit Anablak should receive for the 44 months he's already served in remand awaiting trial.

Mahar said Anablak should receive the standard two days' credit for every one day he's spent in remand. Bell suggested Anablak should get a day and a half of credit.

But the lawyers agree Anablak should be sentenced to a 15-year prison term. This means that their dispute amounts to whether Anablak will serve eight more years in prison, or nine and a half.

Janet Brewster, Lyall's niece, said the family isn't happy about waiting another two weeks for a sentence, but can tolerate another delay.

"It's not as heavy a burden to bear because we've already received a life sentence," she said, adding the family hopes Kilpatrick will use his authority to impose a term longer than 15 years.

Anablak could be sentenced to as much as life in prison, though such a sentence is rarely given in manslaughter cases.

Friday's proceedings were interrupted when Anablak said he couldn't hear some of what was being said. A visibly annoyed Kilpatrick adjourned the proceedings so court staff could hook up headphones for Anablak to use.

After the break, family members read victim impact statements as other relatives wept.

Brewster, taking the witness stand, caught Anablak's eye and held it. "Can you hear me Pat?" she asked. "I want you to hear every word. I want you to feel it."

During her statement, Brewster said she struggles to remember her "99-pound" aunt as she was during happier times, and rages against Anablak for the nasty rumours that Lyall's four children had to endure after their mother's death.

Brewster also said the delay in hooking up headphones was a ploy to deny closure to the family.

"You made us wait again Pat," she said. "On this day that was supposed to end it for us, you made us wait. You beat us down just like you beat our little 99-pound Sylvia down."

She looked at Anablak again and asked if he could hear her. Without breaking her stare, Anablak nodded and mumbled "yes."

Brewster also read an impact statement written by Lyall's eldest daughter Amanda Ritchie, who said each court delay "has been our own private hell."

Kilpatrick declared a mistrial after Anablak fired his lawyer last October, after the crown wrapped up its second-degree murder case against him.

Kathy Meyer, Lyall's sister, said Lyall's killing caused her so much grief she had to see a counsellor, suffered anxiety attacks, started smoking and drinking excessively and had to take anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

Meyer also read a statement written by her sister Betty Brewster, who had a dream the day Lyall died. In it, Lyall was a caterpillar cut in half by the tire of a passing car.

One half died, while the other became a butterfly.

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