Yosef Gopaul sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing Julie Paskall

The man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of hockey mom Julie Paskall, who was brutally beaten in the parking lot of an arena in Surrey, B.C., has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, less 18 months already served.

'I have no life, I just exist': Paskall's husband says in victim impact statement

Hockey mom Julie Paskall was brutally beaten in parking lot of an arena in Surrey, B.C. 3:41

The man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of hockey mom Julie Paskall, who was brutally beaten in the parking lot of an arena in Surrey, B.C., has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, less 18 months already served.

Yosef Gopaul, 28, was originally charged with second-degree murder after the death of the 53-year-old woman in December 2013. On Friday morning, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in Surrey provincial court.

Julie Paskall, 53, was brutally attacked in Surrey's Newton Arena parking lot while waiting for her son to finish refereeing a hockey game. She died of her injuries just days later on New Year's Eve 2013. (Family photo)
Gopaul also pleaded guilty to robbing a woman in the weeks before Paskall's death.

Six people read victim impact statements in court after the pleas were entered. Gopaul buried his head in his hands while in the prisoner's box as Paskall's husband, Al Paskall, began to speak. 

"What's my life now? I have no life. I just exist. I'm on auto pilot. There's no rudder to guide me," he said.

He then addressed Gopaul directly.

Yosef Gopaul, 28, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2013 death of Surrey, B.C., woman Julie Paskall on Friday in Surrey provincial court.
"Mr. Gopaul, when you attacked my wife, you took away the thread that held my family together.... For nearly four decades, Julie was my best friend. All we needed was each other."

Judge Paul Dohm determined the Crown could not prove Gopaul intended to kill Paskall, but said he still committed culpable homicide. He agreed with a joint counsel recommendation that Gopaul be sentenced to 12 years in prison, less the 18 months already served.

Killer apologizes for his crime

Gopaul expressed his remorse to Paskall's family and said he will be seeking the help he knows he needs for rehabilitation. 

"I just have to let you know how truly sorry I am for my crime," he said. 

"I will start by getting my high school diploma, and from that I'll take any and all programs that are appointed to me ... and I will also not just take them, I will complete them. This way, I may be better and be a better member of community and society. And who knows, I may be able to help kids who struggle with anger and aggression to maybe be a better person and stop the cycle of crime and violence."

New details on beating emerge

Paskall had been waiting to pick up her teenage son from refereeing a hockey game when she was viciously beaten on the night of Dec. 23, 2013. The mother of three was transported to hospital and put on life-support.

New details emerged on Friday about Paskall's final moments. The court heard Gopaul hit her with a rock about the size of a grapefruit that weighed more than a kilogram. She fell face first to the ground.

Judge Paul Dohm determined the Crown could not prove Gopaul intended to kill Paskall, but said he still committed culpable homicide.
The court also heard that Paskall, who had a heart condition that made her vulnerable to fear and pain, died a few days after being attacked as a result of cardiac arrhythmia and brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She also had significant injuries to her face and head.

Gopaul told police he did not intend to kill Paskall, but needed money.

Police said they identified him as a suspect early on and had DNA evidence linking him to the crime scene.

However, he was not arrested until five months later because investigators wanted to conduct an undercover "crime boss" operation to obtain a confession.​

Crime 'terrorized a community'

Gopaul had 29 criminal convictions — including aggravated assault — dating back to when he was 16 years old. He had moved to Vancouver from Ontario only eight weeks before Paskall was killed.

The Crown said on Friday Gopaul's crime "terrorized a community" and caused people to be "afraid to be out and about in a place they call home."

Paskall's death prompted the city and police to crack down on crime in the Newton area. 

With files from the CBC's Kirk Williams