'I am broken,' says widow as sentencing arguments begin for men convicted of killing Calgary chef

The widow of a well-known Calgary chef who was killed by two men outside of his soon-to-be opened cafe more than two years ago told a sentencing hearing Friday that she is now broken.

Crown prosecutor read a statement from Jean Herblin, who lost her husband

Calgary chef Christophe Herblin was fatally stabbed in 2020. (Herblin family)

The widow of a well-known Calgary chef who was killed by two men outside of his soon-to-be opened cafe told a sentencing hearing Friday that she is now broken.

Anthony Dodgson and Tommie Holloway were charged in the stabbing death of Christophe Herblin in the parking lot outside the cafe following a break-in on March 14, 2020.

A jury convicted Dodgson of second-degree murder and found Holloway guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Crown attorney Carla MacPhail read a statement in court from Herblin's widow, Jean.

In it, she said she lost a husband, partner and friend of 30 years and her grief comes in waves every day, threatening to overtake her.

"Christophe was my person. He was kind, generous and gentle. We built a life together and we supported each other. I miss him terribly," she said.

"I struggle to make sense of this tragedy but there is none. I will never understand how someone could have such disregard for another human being to think they are dispensable." 

"I am broken."

Herblin was a longtime executive sous chef at the Glencoe Golf and Country Club, and his new restaurant was just weeks away from opening.

Dodgson and Holloway broke into the restaurant with plans to break through the wall into the adjacent cannabis shop, but fled when a car drove by. They returned later to continue their robbery attempt, but were frustrated because Herblin didn't leave.

Holloway smashed Herblin's car windows in order to lure him back into the parking lot, at which point Dodgson attacked him and stabbed him nine times.

Herblin staggered to a nearby gas station for help, but died shortly after police officers came to his aid.

"I woke up at the time that Christophe was taking his last breath," Jean Herblin wrote in her victim impact statement.

"I went to find him. I could see the police tape from blocks away and I felt sick. When the police detectives told me they were with the homicide unit, this nightmare began for us."

MacPhail argued that Dodgson should receive parole ineligibility in the higher range of between 15 and 18 years.

"It is certainly a case of overkill, viciousness and brutality, the infliction of nine stab wounds to Mr. Herblin," MacPhail said.

"The offence was financially motivated. It was premeditated and planned. You'll recall the discussion about the potential use of a weapon, what to do about Mr. Herblin, the word 'stabbing' being used if he resisted."

Dodgson's lawyer, Robin McIntyre, acknowledged that Herblin was an "innocent victim," but said her client's parole ineligibility should be in the range of 10 to 12 years. Six of the 12 jurors recommended parole eligibility after 10 years, while the remaining six offered no opinion.

Dodgson read an apology to Herblin's family.

"I never wished for any of this to happen. I wish I never drank or did drugs in my life. I'm sorry for everything I've done," he told the court.

"The family lost a good husband and father. I'm sorry for that. I lost my kid as well and now I'm losing my life for something that should have never happened."

Dodgson said nothing like this would happen again in his life because he "found God" and will "never use drugs or drink again."

The Crown said although Holloway was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, he was still a key player in Herblin's death.

"Mr. Holloway's actions in this case were integral in the overall criminal scheme and exhibit a high level of moral culpability," said Crown attorney Aleksandra Simic.

Simic argued Holloway should serve 12 years in prison before being eligible for parole, but would receive three and a half years of credit for time already served.

Sentencing arguments will resume Feb. 6, but a sentencing date for both men is scheduled for Feb. 24.