WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
A Calgarian who “mutilated” his girlfriend in a Calgary hotel room, causing more than 140 stabbing and blunt force injuries, was handed a 10-year prison sentence for manslaughter on Friday.
Sharilyn Gagnon, a 33-year-old mother, was killed in a northeast hotel room in a brutal act of domestic violence.
Originally charged with second-degree murder, Vladimir Ngbangbo Soki, 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Gagnon’s 2021 death following a plea deal arranged by prosecutor Terry Mazerolle and defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli.
With credit for the time he’s already served, Soki has about five years and nine months left on his sentence.
‘The world had cheated me’
Before handing down the killer’s sentence, Court of King’s Bench Justice Robert Hall heard from several of Gagnon’s family members who delivered victim impact statements.
Justice Hall called the family members’ words a “poignant representations of the tremendous hurt … they have suffered.”
Gagnon’s mother, father, children and siblings were included in those who stood in court and delivered their statements.
“A mother’s love for her adult child extends beyond her sufferings and beyond any feelings of lost hope,” said Sharon Wigton, through tears.
“It felt like the world had cheated me, stole a treasure of mine.”
The court heard that Gagnon struggled with drug addiction, but her family members spoke of the stolen opportunity for the chance to rehabilitate herself.
“When she met you [Soki], she thought she’d met someone to help turn her life around,” said Edwin Gagnon about his daughter.
“Instead, you took and fed her more drugs and made her a piece of your property.”
Lamp and hatchet used in attack
On March 23, 2021, while in a drug-fuelled rage, Soki attacked his girlfriend in a hotel room at the Airport Traveller’s Inn.
He was found by police later that day, burning items of clothing and towels soaked in blood.
An autopsy revealed Gagnon suffered 70 stab wounds, 46 blunt force injuries and 25 overlapping sharp and blunt force injuries.
Justice Hall noted the killer used several weapons, including a lamp and hatchet.
Gagnon ‘fought for her life’
When police arrived at the scene, they found the hotel room “littered with suitcases, duffel bags, bloody footprints” and Gagnon’s body between the hotel room’s two beds, according to the agreed statement of facts presented as part of Soki’s guilty plea in December 2022.
Soki was suffering from a head wound at the time of his arrest, and according to Gagnon’s family, she had defensive wounds, showing she had “fought for her life.”
Edwin Gagnon told the court that even the funeral director broke down in tears when showing the victim’s body to her family.
“They did their best to cover the wounds on her face,” he said.
‘I hate you, Vladimir’
Gagnon left behind three children.
“We all try to support them but I do worry about their future. Being the children of trauma is a lifelong struggle that has only begun,” said Gagnon’s brother Chris.
He told his sister’s killer: “I hate you, Vladimir.”
The victim’s daughter Georgia also addressed the court, telling the judge that the day her mother died was “the worst day of my life.”
“My mom is gone. Dead. At the hands of a man,” said Georgia.
“Her warmth, her hugs, her forehead kisses, her scent, her comforting voice. She’s all gone.”
‘She never saw her worth’
Soki has a lengthy criminal record with 27 previous convictions, including a previous assault on Gagnon.
A pre-sentence report found he is a high risk to violently reoffend.
Throughout the sentencing hearing, Soki did not look at or acknowledge his victim’s family members. His lack of remorse was noted by several of Gagnon’s relatives.
“Her only downfall was that she never gave herself the same respect and value she gave others,” said Gagnon’s sister Marion Crompton.
“She never saw her worth and Vladimir preyed on that.”