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SURREY, B.C.: Yosef Jomo Gopaul pleads guilty to manslaughter and robbery in death of Julie Paskall

Ms. Paskall, 53, had been waiting to pick up her son from the Newton Arena following a hockey game on Dec. 29, 2013, when she was attacked. She died two days later in hospital.

Man pleads guilty in death of B.C. hockey mom, sentenced to 12 years

Yosef Jomo Gopaul at the court. (SKETCH BY FELICITY DON)

ANDREA WOO

SURREY, B.C. — The Globe and Mail

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Last updated 

A man charged in the fatal beating of hockey mom Julie Paskall, whose death in Surrey, B.C., crystallized fears about the area being unsafe, pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

With credit for time already served, Yosef Jomo Gopaul has 10½ years remaining in his sentence.

Mr. Gopaul, 28, was initially charged with second-degree murder but he pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and one count of robbery. The 12-year sentence was the result of a joint recommendation from the Crown and the defence.

Ms. Paskall, 53, had been waiting to pick up her son from the Newton Arena following a hockey game on Dec. 29, 2013, when she was attacked. She died two days later in hospital.

In an emotional victim impact statement, Ms. Paskall’s husband, Al, said the two had met as teens and been best friends for nearly four decades.

“Every day with her was an adventure, and now my adventure is over,” he said through tears.

“Nothing matters any more.”

Ms. Paskall’s daughter Rhiannon told the court that she has cerebral palsy and that her mother had always been her biggest cheerleader.

“My mom was truly my best friend in the entire world,” she said, sobbing.

On Friday, the court heard that Mr. Gopaul had confessed to an undercover officer posing as a crime boss that he struck Ms. Paskall in the head with a rock. He claimed his intention was not to kill her, but to rob her.

He also confessed to a robbery that occured almost two weeks before the attack on Ms. Paskall. On Dec. 16, Mr. Gopaul struck a young Asian woman with a rock, beat her and then took her mobile phone and other belongings, the court heard.

Mr. Gopaul was arrested on May 23 of 2014.

Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephen said Ms. Paskall was particularly vulnerable because she had significant heart disease and that a healthier person would likely have survived the attack.

Mr. Gopaul, who had a shaved head and wore a striped shirt, expressed little emotion throughout the proceedings. He stared at the ground during the tearful victim impact statements.

Before he was sentenced, Mr. Gopaul delivered a short statement to the court.

“I never thought in a million years the blood of someone would be on my hands,” he said.

“I know you most likely hate me, but I just have to let you know how truly sorry I am. My words might not mean nothing at all to you, but if any of it should mean something, it’s this: though she might not be here in body, she’ll always be in your hearts.”

The Crown said Mr. Gopaul has 29 criminal convictions dating back to when he was 16, including six that were crimes of violence.

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