Saskatchewan

Details released about night 2 girls froze to death

A description of a Saskatchewan man as disoriented, foaming at the mouth and smelling of alcohol on the night his two small daughters were left in a snowy field is among many details of the case released in a written court decision Wednesday.

A description of a Saskatchewan man as disoriented, foaming at the mouth and smelling of alcohol on the night his two small daughters were left in a snowy field is among many details of the case released in a written court decision Wednesday.

Christopher Pauchay, 25, has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death in connection with the January 2008 incident that took the lives of Kaydance, 3, and Santana, 15 months, on the Yellow Quill First Nation.

Pauchay has said very little publicly about what happened the night when the girls were left outside in light clothing in weather that felt like –50 C with the wind chill.

However, a 15-page court ruling by provincial court judge Barry Morgan — a ruling that granted Pauchay a sentencing circle — contains a lengthy summary of the facts agreed to by the Crown and defence lawyers.

'He remembered holding his baby, that it was very cold and very windy, that he was drunk and that he had difficulty walking straight.'— from Judge Barry Morgan's Jan. 7 ruling

It says Pauchay was left alone with the children on the weekend in question after getting into a dispute with his common-law wife. 

On Sunday afternoon Jan. 27, he picked up 24 beers and some hard liquor. He phoned his brother-in-law several times looking for a drinking partner.

Late at night, he showed up intoxicated, asking for help, at the house of his brother-in-law, who said Pauchay wasn't wearing a winter coat. He was carrying five knives in the waistband of his pants.

When the brother-in-law come over to his house, he said he saw the girls were awake and that Pauchay was putting knives under the couch cushions.

The brother-in-law told Pauchay to stop drinking, saying he'd take care of the children, but Pauchay said he could handle it.

Several hours later, another neighbour said a frostbitten Pauchay was banging on her door.

He was "slobbering, disoriented, had a strong smell of alcohol about him, and was foaming at the mouth," Morgan's ruling said the neighbour reported.

Pauchay also had two small knives in his back pocket, the neighbour said.

Crown seeking prison sentence of 2½–5 years

Pauchay was taken to hospital and was treated. In the afternoon, he asked the nurses where his children were.

A frantic search for the little girls immediately began. One girl was found frozen in the snow several hours later while the other was found outside the next day.

Pauchay told the nurses and the police that "he remembered holding his baby, that it was very cold and very windy, that he was drunk, and that he had difficulty walking straight," the decision said.

There were 11 marks in the snow consistent with someone falling down, according to the police.

The body of one girl was found dressed in a diaper and a t-shirt. The other was wearing a diaper and had an adult's shirt wrapped around her.

Police searched Pauchay's house and found coats, boots, mitts and other warm clothing "that a child would need if she were to be outside in those particular weather conditions."

In the snow, there were a number of Pauchay's knives scattered around, the decision said.

One of the girls, Kaydance, had a cut on her leg, but the judge said there was no way to know if there was any connection to the knives.

According to the judge's decision, Pauchay has acknowledged he accepts the facts as presented.

A date for the sentencing circle will be discussed on Jan. 27.

A sentencing circle is an alternative procedure where people from the community as well as families of both victims and offenders come together to make recommendations to the judge.

The judge said Pauchay has met all the criteria for a sentencing circle, including showing remorse.

The Crown has argued for a prison sentence of 2½ to 5 years while the defence says a conditional sentence would be appropriate.

Yellow Quill First Nation is about 270 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

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