Besides serving a one-year jail sentence, a Penticton woman who injected her teenage boyfriend with a lethal dose of morphine must also reimburse the victim’s family for funeral costs, a judge ordered Wednesday.
Kiera Bourque, 24, previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter death of Devon Blackmore, who was 17 when he died on April 2, 2017.
“While I am satisfied you did not have any intention of causing Devon’s death… what you did was reckless, senseless and naïve,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gary Weatherill told Bourque in his sentencing decision.
“You should have known better, especially since the drug you were administering was not legal…. Devon’s death and the whole ordeal was so unnecessary.”
Weatherill described the family’s victim impact statements as “gut-wrenching.”
“It is difficult to fully imagine or put into words the sorrow that must be felt by Devon’s family,” said Weatherill.
“They feel his absence every day. Their suffering is unlikely to abate.”
The judge nonetheless spent a portion of his 45-minute decision praising Bourque, a licensed cosmetologist, for turning around her life and co-operating with the investigation.
“You are an extremely remorseful young woman with no criminal history who demonstrated a serious lack of judgement and have taken full responsibility for what happened,” noted Weatherill.
Once her jail sentence is complete, Bourque will serve two years’ probation, conditions of which include having no contact with Bourque’s family and reimbursing them $5,400 for his funeral.
There is no mandatory minimum sentence for manslaughter. During the main portion of the hearing Sept. 18, Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys called for a three-year prison term, while defence counsel Paul Varga suggested a suspended sentence of three years’ probation.
According to circumstances of the case read into the court record at the start of the hearing, Blackmore and Bourque had been dating for approximately three months when he became ill during spring break 2017.
Blackmore, who was set to graduate from Pen-Hi in a few months, suspected he had bronchitis and didn’t seek medical attention. He instead went to stay with Bourque at her apartment.
Bourque, who became addicted to morphine after a rugby accident in 2014, told police Blackmore, who was inexperienced with drugs, asked her for a dose to ease his pain, despite having had an adverse to morphine earlier in life.
Bourque told police she injected Blackmore with his first dose on the evening of April 1, and another the next morning, both times at his request.
Around noon on the day of his death, she helped Blackmore to the washroom, where he collapsed and began having seizures. She called 911 immediately and performed first aid, but Blackmore was pronounced dead at the scene.
A pathologist later determined Blackmore died of a morphine overdose, but cited as a contributing factor necrotizing pneumonia in both lungs.
Due to social distancing requirements at the Penticton courthouse, Bourque’s family and supporters were seated in one courtroom and Blackmore’s family in another. Members of the media listened to the proceedings via teleconference.