Joel Clow sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter in 2015 death of Traci Lynch

Joel Clow has been sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter in the killing of his girlfriend Traci Lynch in July 2015.

'All will feel the impact of this loss for the rest of their lives'

This photograph of Joel Clow was taken by RCMP investigators shortly after his arrest in July, 2015. The photo was presented among evidence at trial. (RCMP)

Joel Lawrence Clow has been sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter in the killing of his girlfriend Traci Lynch in July 2015.

Justice Terri MacPherson handed down the sentence in P.E.I. Supreme Court Monday in Charlottetown.

Clow pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter after his previous murder conviction was overturned on appeal in February 2019. 

The Crown and defence lawyers had agreed in June on a joint recommendation of 12 years. Clow has spent almost four years in custody since his arrest. Today's sentence is in addition to time already served.

'Violent and tragic'

In sentencing Clow, MacPherson described Lynch's death as "extremely violent and tragic."

"A young boy has lost his mother, a mother has lost her daughter, siblings have lost their sister, the entire family has lost a treasured member," said MacPherson. "All will feel the impact of this loss for the rest of their lives."

Clow was originally convicted of second degree murder and in 2017 he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.

No time will ever be enough.— Kelly MacDonald

Lynch's family packed the courtroom for Monday's sentencing. They travelled from Nova Scotia, where Lynch is originally from.

"No time will ever be enough. Having to settle for manslaughter is not what we wanted but in the end you have to accept what the court decides," Lynch's cousin, Kelly MacDonald, told CBC.

The family said they will now focus on caring for Lynch's young son.

Lynch died in Pleasant Grove, P.E.I. in July 2015 from strangulation and blunt force injury. Her body was discovered in a wheelbarrow on Clow's property.

Lynch and Clow were in a relationship in the months leading up to her death. She lived in a house about a kilometre down the road from him.

Traci Lynch in an undated photo (Submitted)

Evidence presented during those court proceedings showed signs of a violent struggle across the road from Clow's house. The judge at the time said the struggle ended with Clow tearing up Lynch's T-shirt, wrapping it around her neck and using it to drag her back to his property.

Clow admitted his actions caused her death but at trial his lawyers Joel Pink and Nathan Sutherland argued that Clow was too intoxicated to understand what he was doing, and was not capable of forming intent to kill.

The Crown had argued Clow had a clear state of mind that night. Evidence presented at trial suggested Lynch was afraid of Clow because he had tried to run her down with his truck, had poured bleach over her clothes, flooded her house and had been discovered hiding in her garage.

In 2017, Judge Nancy Key ruled that Clow's efforts to conceal Lynch's body, and the fact that he bagged many of her clothes and personal items and put them in the garbage was evidence he felt guilty for what he'd done.

He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. 

A question of intent

In February 2019 the case took a major turn. 

Joel Clow was interviewed by RCMP at the Montague detachment on July 25, 2015 (Court exhibit)

P.E.I.'s Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. Justice John Mitchell found that Key had failed to consider all the evidence, including that Clow may have been high and severely intoxicated at the time of Lynch's death.

Clow pleaded guilty to manslaughter, negating the need for a new trial. 

Clow's 12-year sentence begins Monday.

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