A packed courtroom watched the sentencing hearing of Garrett Steven George in Prince George last week, including dozens of people from Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
George, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in relation to the death of Destiny Rae Tom, was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison. However, he only has eight years and four months left since he received one and a half day credit for each day he has already spent in custody.
Destiny’s mother Vivian Tom, who’s also the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation Chief, said many people in the courtroom disagreed with the sentencing’s length.
“A lot of people were upset, my family was quite upset, they thought that he deserved a lengthier term,” said Vivian.
Although George was originally charged with second-degree murder, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in June.
Vivian said many people in the courtroom were shocked to hear details of Destiny’s injures.
“When they were reading out the pathologist’s reports, everybody in the courtroom was crying because they found out the extent of the damages done to Destiny and how brutal the attack was on her,” she said. “A lot of them were crying and upset.”
Destiny was 21 years old when she was found deceased and badly beaten outside of a residence in the Fort Fraser area in March 2013.
Vivian said she can at least find comfort in knowing that the court trial is now over.
“In a way everything is final and I just want to vent; after all that, it’s been three years since Destiny has passed and it’s finally been dealt with.”
“Now I can rest without going back and forth to Prince George,” she added. “So I’m glad that everything is done.”
Vivian said that from now on she and other community members hope to raise awareness about violence against women and help women who may be struggling with abuse.
“There are so many women out there who are still being beaten, murdered and living in fear.”