Volume 12 Week 5

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(Updated 10 a.m., Oct. 2)
Yellowknife man responsible for 2013 beating death of Emerson Curran gets five-year sentence

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Before his tragic death at house party in Yellowknife, Emerson Curran was an outstanding student and athlete at St. Peter High School in Orléans. File photo

The man responsible for the 2013 beating death of Orléans resident Emerson Curran at a house party in Yellowknife has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Roman Bourque, 25, has been free on bail for the past two years while awaiting sentencing.

Following Justice Karan Shaner’s decision in a Yellowknife court on Oct. 1, Bourque was taken into custody with the proviso from the judge that he should serve his sentence in the NWT to allow him to remain close to his family.

Curran, who was 20 years old at the time of his death, had just spent the summer working as a float plane dockhand for a regional air carrier. He was scheduled to fly back to Ottawa the following day when he made a last minute decision to go to the party. While there, he was drawn into an altercation by Bourque who punched him repeatedly, knocking him off balance and causing him to fall. Curran hit his head on the edge of a piano and suffered severe head trauma.

Bourque, who was six inches taller and nearly 90 lbs. heavier than Curran, continued to rain blows down on his victim while fighting off attempts by others to get him to stop. When the first responders arrived, Curran was unconscious and had gone into cardiac arrest. He was transported to an Edmonton hospital by air ambulance and later died from his injuries. He never regained consciousness.

Justice Shaner issued her sentence after hearing Emerson’s mother and father read impact statements in which they told the court how their son’s death has affected their lives and their family.

“Our family’s wounds will never heal,” Michael Curran told the court according to a report in the Yellowknife News. “Our lives will never return to normal."

After he was pronounced dead, Curran’s organs including his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas, were donated to five different recipients.

According to local media reports, Bourque also addressed the court saying that he was truly sorry for his actions which Justice Shaner characterized as “impulsive, stupid and violent”.

The five-year sentence was in line with the recommendations of both the defence and the prosecution which asked for five to five-and half years. With good behaviour Bourque could be released on day parole after serving just 14 months, and he can apply for full parole after 20 months.

Asked for his opinion on Bourque’s sentence outside the court, Michael Curran told CBC North that he could not comment on whether he thought it was appropriate or not.

“It’s hard for me to say if it’s a proper sentence,” Mr. Curran said. “We don’t have control over that."

“I don't think my wife and I think Roman is some sort of monster,” he went on to say. “But at the same time I think he was brutal. I think he was reckless, and committed a very unnecessary act of extreme violence."

In a separate statement released following the sentencing, Mr. Curran shared his thoughts on the legal process surrounding his son’s case.

“My wife and I struggle to understand how it took about 770 days for someone to be incarcerated for committing a brutal homicide in front of a room full of people,” he wrote. “The length of the process took a great toll on us, our family and friends. Except for one day in jail, Roman Bourque has enjoyed 25 months of relative freedom since committing an act of extreme violence.

“And when people in Yellowknife approach us to say they’ve wanted to see the perpetrator taken off the street for months, you start to think the legal process is out of step with the needs of the community. What message does it send to the community when someone who commits a homicide walks free for this long? Even after he pleads guilty, he gets five and a half more months to walk free."

Mr. Curran also addressed the issue of closure in his statement.

“Today’s sentence ends the criminal justice part of this process, but it does not lessen the massive impact of this homicide on our family and friends. And, to some extent, we move from the criminal justice system to the corrections system. None of this brings any closure for us. It closes one door and opens another."

Emerson Curran was about to begin his third year studying philosophy at the University of Ottawa when he was killed. He was a graduate of St. Peter High School where he was a member of the school football team and was a model employee at the Innes Road Farm Boy store. He is survived by his mother and father, and his siblings Liam, Graeme and Lauren.

A memorial scholarship has been established in Emerson's name at the University of Ottawa for a recipient who demonstrates outstanding community service and/or leadership.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   

 


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