'Justice was served,' says Cindy Gladue's mother after Bradley Barton sentenced to 12½ years for manslaughter

Ontario trucker Bradley Barton was convicted in February of manslaughter in the death of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Métis and Cree woman, who died in his room at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011. His 12½ -year sentence, handed down Tuesday, will be reduced to 11 years and 204 days after credit for time served.

Warning: This story includes graphic and disturbing details

Cindy Gladue, cooking in the kitchen. Gladue was a 36-year-old Metis and Cree mother of three daughters. She was found dead in the bathtub of Bradley Barton's hotel room at Edmonton's Yellowhead Inn in June 2011. (Submitted by Donna McLeod)

Ten years and one month after Cindy Gladue bled to death in an Edmonton hotel room bathtub, the man who caused her fatal injury has been sentenced to 12½ years in prison for manslaughter. 

Bradley Barton appeared to show little reaction when Court of Queen's Bench Justice Stephen Hillier imposed the sentence. Barton will get almost a one-year credit for time already served in pretrial custody.

This is the second time Barton has been on trial for Gladue's death. A jury acquitted him of first-degree murder in 2015 in a highly controversial trial that involved the display of her preserved vaginal tissue.

The Alberta Court of Appeal reversed the acquittal, noting that Gladue had been referred to in court as a "Native girl" and a "prostitute," while referring to her sexual history. 

The Supreme Court of Canada ordered that Barton should be tried again on a manslaughter charge. The second jury found Barton guilty in February 2021. 

Gladue was a 36-year-old Métis and Cree mother of three daughters.

She agreed to sex for money transactions with Barton on two nights in June 2011. On the second night, she was highly intoxicated with four times the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream by the time she had sex with Barton in his hotel room.

Barton inserted his fist into Gladue's vagina and thrust for an estimated ten minutes, causing an 11-centimetre fatal wound to her vaginal wall. When he withdrew his hand, it was covered in blood.  

He told the court he thought Gladue had her period and fell asleep while she made her way to the bathroom. 

Barton, a trucker from Ontario, was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison Tuesday after being convicted of manslaughter in Gladue's death. (Jim Stokes)

Judge criticized Barton's testimony

Justice Hillier rejected his version of events and sharply criticized the testimony Barton delivered during the trial.

"Mr. Barton was not a reliable historian or witness in general," Hillier told the court on Tuesday morning.

"His evidence … included various attempts to exonerate his conduct: sustained deceits, self-serving distortions, rationalizing contradictions as figures of speech and other colourable evasions." 

Hillier determined that Gladue's injury and her "high-volume bleeding" occurred in the middle of the hotel room bed on top of the comforter. 

"Mr. Barton lifted Ms. Gladue up with the comforter, carried her into the adjacent washroom and placed her in the bathtub where she bled out," he said. 

Many times throughout the reading of his 22-page decision, Hillier noted that Barton failed to get any potentially life-saving medical help for Gladue. 

"The expert evidence also supported that medical attention within about 20 to 30 minutes may have enabled Ms. Gladue to survive this injury." 

Hillier said Barton's actions and lies amounted to "an intolerable level of blameworthiness."

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos said he plans to appeal Barton's conviction and possibly his sentence, noting that Legal Aid Alberta has already agreed to fund the appeal. 

Cindy Gladue's mother, Donna McLeod, left, and her daughter, Cheyanne Gladue, right, express relief Tuesday outside the Edmonton courthouse where Barton was sentenced. (Rick Marion/Radio-Canada)

'He dehumanized her and all women'

Outside court, Gladue's mother and daughter expressed relief that Barton has finally been sentenced. 

"Justice was served for my daughter," Donna McLeod said. "I'm glad this is all over." 

"Just because justice was served doesn't mean the heartache will ever go away," said Cheyanne Gladue, Cindy Gladue's daughter. 

In a statement provided to CBC News, Gladue's cousin said she's scarred by ten years of legal proceedings and the way the legal system treated the victim as less than human. 

"Barton killed her in the most violent and violating of ways imaginable," Prairie Adaoui wrote.

"Women throughout the country, including myself, were traumatized by the intensity of violence he perpetrated against her and the pain he inflicted on her in the final moments of her life. He dehumanized her and all women." 

The family said that at long last, Gladue was put to rest last week. She was buried in northern Alberta next to her grandparents.