Cries of “yes” and “good” were shouted in a Regina court room as sentences were handed down to Tammy and Kevin Goforth.
The Regina couple were convicted last month in the death of a four-year-old girl and the injury of her two-year-old sister.
Outside court a person who speaks for the family of the victims said, “we are very satisfied, all the hurt this family went through paid off today”.
Justice Ellen Gunn read out her sentences at Court of Queen’s Bench Friday morning.
In relation to the four-year-old, Tammy Goforth was convicted of second-degree murder and received a life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 17 years.
Kevin Goforth was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, reduced to 14 years with time served.
They each received a five year concurrent sentence for unlawful bodily harm in relation to the two-year-old sister.
The woman who speaks for the victims said the family of the girls will now turn their attention elsewhere.
“There still needs to be answers, you know, to other questions regarding child care and social services,” she said, flanked by other family members who yelled out “justice”.
“This shouldn’t happen. This won’t be condoned in our community. This sends a message that this is not okay.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Crown lawyer Kim Jones, who was happy that child abuse of this nature was being taken seriously by the courts. After the verdict, Jones had called this case one of the hardest of his career.
“This was a team effort and quite frankly I think it was trying on all parties,” he stated.
“Crown counsel, defence counsel, this has been a very difficult journey for everyone.”
The manslaughter sentence is one of the harshest in Saskatchewan historically, with the 15 years closer to a second-degree murder conviction, than the typical 30 months to eight years.
Defence lawyer Jeff Deagle said he would look closely at the written decision and “go from there regarding the next steps”.
In her judgment Gunn wrote, “what happened to these beautiful little girls is difficult to comprehend”. They were found malnourished and dehydrated and the Goforths did not seek medical help for them.
Gunn went on to write, “death did not come quickly to the four-year-old, it came slowly and painfully. This was not a single, spontaneous act, but a series of acts”.
She added the Goforths’ sentences represented their “high moral culpability”.