A Calgary mother whose boyfriend murdered her three-year-old daughter after the girl interrupted his video game delivered a powerful victim impact statement Thursday, telling her ex that she is “ashamed” to have ever known him.
“I hope her face haunts you til the day you die,” Helen Wordsworth told Justin Bennett at his second-degree murder sentencing hearing.
Ivy Wick died of her injuries after eight days on life support in hospital in the fall of 2017.
When she was admitted to hospital, Bennett told police and medical staff he heard a “scream and a thud” come from the girl’s room where she’d run after getting in trouble for a tantrum.
But a year after Wick’s death, Bennett was charged after he confessed his crime to undercover police.
At the time of the girl’s death, Bennett had a video game addiction and on the day of her injuries, she interrupted her stepfather’s play.
Bennett told cops he ‘snapped’
Bennett told the undercover officers he checked to make sure Wordsworth was still in the shower before he “smashed” Wick in the head.
He said he then “snapped” and threw the girl against a wall and then, as the three-year-old ran to her bedroom, Bennett tripped her.
“For months after Ivy died, you wouldn’t allow me to cry or talk about her and when I did, you got mad at me,” said Wordsworth.
“Now I understand why.”
People convicted of second-degree murder, like Bennett, automatically receive a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.
Defence lawyer Gregory Lazin asked the judge to impose a 13-year parole ineligibility period, while prosecutors Tom Spark and Sue Kendall argued Bennett should have to spend 15 years behind bars before he’s allowed to apply for release.
Bennett was convicted of second-degree murder in 2021 following a trial. The sentencing hearing was delayed several times after Bennett fired two different lawyers, asked for a second psychiatric evaluation and then attempted to have his case declared a mistrial.
In December, Court of King’s Bench Justice Blair Nixon rejected the mistrial application, requiring Bennett to proceed to his sentencing hearing. After a full-day hearing Thursday, Nixon will hand down Bennett’s sentence next week.
In his submissions, Lazin argued his client was 24 years old at the time of Wick’s death and was an “extremely immature individual” who was raised in an instable home that modelled abuse as discipline.
“Justin Bennett is repeating cycles of broken relationships and inability to have any type of normal parenting styles,” said Lazin.
“He didn’t know how to cope.”
‘We hate you’
But the Crown cited the three aggravating factors in asking for a 15-year parole ineligibility period, include the child’s young age, the fact that Bennett was responsible for her care and that he delayed calling 911 while also lying to medical staff and police.
Spark pointed out that Bennett “appears to have no remorse” and “takes no responsibility” for his crime.
Even if he’d shown remorse, Wick’s grandparents say it would be meaningless.
“We are very forgiving people but we will never forgive you,” wrote Don and Ellie Wordsworth.
“We don’t normally hate people but we hate you right to the bottom of our hearts.”