A Pond Inlet, Nunavut, man has been sentenced to six years in prison for beating his common-law wife to death while their children watched.

Kenneth Arreak pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced last week in the death of 33-year-old Louise Killiktee in December 2010.

Pond Inlet

Arreak, 33, was originally charged with second-degree murder. In court in Pond Inlet last week, both Crown and defence lawyers agreed to accept a guilty plea to the lesser charge. They also presented an agreed statement of facts on what happened on the night of Dec. 29.

The court heard that the evening started with a holiday dinner at the home of Arreak's parents. Arreak, Killiktee and their three youngest children left at 10 p.m., but Arreak didn't go straight home.  

Instead, he drank large amounts of tequila and vodka, took two anti-depressants and then snorted six more.

When he got home around 2 a.m., he began punching and kicking Killiktee, repeatedly and forcefully, while the children, ages 2, 4 and 6, watched from the living room.

During the attack, Jonas Arreak came over to the house. He heard the middle child say "Look, my mom is hurt." He also reported seeing Killiktee crying, but said he was unable to stop the assault, so he went home.

Sometime after 2 a.m., Kenneth Arreak called his father, who said he sounded drunk and desperate. When Arreak's father arrived at the house, he found his son trying to perform CPR on Killiktee.

When the police arrived, Arreak carried his battered partner to the RCMP truck. She was taken to the health centre where she was pronounced dead.

Arreak was arrested at the health centre. He was co-operative and says he has no memory of the events.

Arreak has already spent two years in custody at the Baffin Correctional Centre. The Crown lawyer in the case asked for a sentence of a five to seven more years in jail. Instead, Arreak received a further 39 months.

Defence lawyer Malcolm Kempt said last week's sentencing was a difficult one. 

"It was a very emotional sentencing for everybody. A lot of the people from the community turned out, and I think it's always better in these types of sentencing when the sentencing takes place in the community because then everyone in the community gets to be involved in the process and the offender gets to speak directly to the victim, or in this case this victim's family."

Kempt said Arreak read aloud a letter in court to his spouse's family. He was in tears, and so was the judge.

The victim's father also wrote a letter that the judge read aloud in court. Jaykolassie Killiktee asked that Arreak serve no prison time and instead look after the couple's four children, who now have no parents to look after them.