Kitchener-Waterloo

Man gets 6 years for hitting and killing child's mother, hiding her body

The man who killed 28-year-old Yvonne Umutoniwasi in 2018 has been sentenced to six years in prison for hitting and killing the woman, then hiding her body in the closet of a child's bedroom.

Crown and defense requesting a sentence of 6 years after woman discovered badly decomposed

The man who killed 28-year-old Yvonne Umutoniwasi in 2018 pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Tuesday at the Kitchener courthouse. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The man who killed 28-year-old Yvonne Umutoniwasi in 2018 has been sentenced to six years in prison for hitting and killing the woman, then hiding her body in the closet of a child's bedroom.

Isaac Gany ​​​​​pleaded guilty to manslaughter through an interpreter in a Kitchener courtroom on Monday.

Umutoniwasi's body was discovered in a closet in her apartment on Aug. 12, 2018, 10 days after it's believed she died. 

Police officers found the body while performing a wellness check after a downstairs neighbour complained of a bad smell.

Gany and Umutoniwasi had an on-again, off-again relationship from 2015 until her death, an agreed statement of facts presented to the court said.

The statement of facts also said that relationship often involved outbursts of violence.

Gany pleaded guilty to assaulting her in May 2015. Part of his sentencing of three years probation included orders not to contact Umutoniwasi.

In September 2017, he was again arrested for assaulting Umutoniwasi. In the weeks after that assault, Umutoniwasi became pregnant with Gany's child. 

Court heard that in May 2018, he went to an obstetrician appointment with her and a month later was convicted of breach of probation and once again ordered not to be in contact with Umutoniwasi.

Later in May 2018, Umutoniwasi gave birth to a son. Children's services took the child.

In late June 2018, Gany was arrested and held in custody for breaching his probation and was sentenced to time served plus nine days. The following month, on July 29, he returned to Umutoniwasi's apartment.

Man went to bed after killing her

An agreed statement of facts read in court on Tuesday indicates that on Aug. 1, 2018, Gany had been drinking with friends before he went to Umutoniwasi's apartment.

The statement of facts says the two got into an argument, and Umutoniwasi grabbed a knife, slicing Gany's arm. The statement of facts says he then hit her and knocked the knife away.

Either late on Aug. 1 or early on Aug. 2, they fought again. Gany tried to leave the apartment, but Umutoniwasi grabbed his arm and asked him to stay, the court heard.

Gany then hit her and broke her nose. She fell backwards and hit her head on the wall. Gany went to bed and when he woke up, Umutoniwasi was dead, the statement said.

'He killed the mother of his son'

Gany hid Umutoniwasi's body in the closet of a room that also included a crib. He piled items on top of her body including two laundry hampers, a plastic crate and several garbage bags, court heard.

He taped closed a vent in the room where Umutoniwasi's body was hidden using tinfoil and duct tape. Police would later take two fingerprints from the vent — both of them Gany's.

At 11:12 a.m. on Aug. 2, Gany was seen on video surveillance leaving Umutoniwasi's apartment.

Crown Jeremy Schaffer said Umutoniwasi's body was so decomposed by the time officers discovered her that an autopsy was unable to determine an exact cause of death.

Gany took was later arrested in Montreal on Aug. 20 for breach of probation.On April 3, 2019, he was charged with murder.

Sentence of 6 years requested

Both Schaffer and defense lawyer Brennan Smart said Umutoniwasi and Gany had a difficult start to their lives.

Umutoniwasi was born in the Congo and both her parents were killed. She came to Canada, and in 2006, a psychological assessment found she likely had post-traumatic stress disorder. She was unable to work and had a public guardian who helped her, as well as workers from the YMCA.

Gany was born in Ethiopia and raised in South Sudan. At a young age he was separated from his parents and fended for himself, eventually making his way to a refugee camp in Kenya. Smart said Gany's family has been "disappointed" in Gany's lifestyle and dependency on alcohol.

"This is an offence that has caused him to reflect most seriously — not only did he kill the woman he loves, he killed the mother of his son," said Smart.

In a joint submission, the Crown and defense requested a sentence of six years, with two years time served. Gany will also need to submit DNA to the national DNA databank and is prohibited from owning weapons for life.

Justice Karey Katzsch agreed, sentencing Gany to six years. His term will be finished within four years and 10 months.

Katzsch received two victim impact statements to review as part of sentencing.

"She is clearly someone who had her own struggles and will be sorely missed," Katzsch said of Umutoniwasi.

She noted Umutoniwasi's and Gany's child will never have a chance to get to know his mother now.

Katzsch said "this woman deserved far better."