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‘Fearless, gentle’ young woman murdered in stabbings mourned in emotional court hearing

​​​​​​​The mother of the young woman murdered during a stabbing rampage in North Vancouver that seriously injured six others told a B.C. courtroom Wednesday that the loss has left her family able to do little more than exist.

Yannick Bandaogo pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in 2021 attack at North Vancouver library

A uniformed RCMP officer kneels as he places a bouquet of flowers on a pile of similar bouquets.

WARNING: This story contains details of violence.

The mother of the young woman murdered during a stabbing rampage in North Vancouver that seriously injured six others told a B.C. courtroom Wednesday that the loss has left her family able to do little more than exist.

The identity of the murder victim, who was killed by Yannick Bandaogo on March 27, 2021, is protected by a publication ban.

Her mother gave a victim impact statement at the opening of an emotional sentencing hearing for Bandaogo in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

"Our daughter said that whenever she boarded an Air Transat and heard Canadian accents it felt like she was going home. But there was another home she loved — our home, the family home, where she grew up with her brother and her sister and her dog and her mom and her dad," the mother told the court.

"Well, she has neither home now and nor do we. We are left merely to exist. … Our fearless, gentle daughter."

The victim's father stood by her side throughout the victim impact statement, staring straight at Bandaogo the entire time. When they locked eyes, the killer lowered his head.

Bandaogo pleaded guilty in May to one count of second-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault for the attack at the Lynn Valley public library.

The murder victim was in her late 20s. Six others were badly injured, including a university student, a high school teacher and a single mother. The victims were between the ages of 22 and 78 years old at the time of the stabbings.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Bandaogo did not know any of the people he attacked.

Defence and Crown lawyers have presented a joint sentencing recommendation of life in prison without chance of parole for at least 15 years on the murder charge.

'My whole life was forever changed'

Two of the survivors gave statements on Wednesday as well, laying out in careful detail how the attack has changed their lives forever.

They both told the court they still have a long list of unanswered questions about the attack, the biggest of which is why it happened. At this point, no motive has been given for Bandaogo's actions.

Susanne Till, a single mother of three who lost an eye in the attack, remembered she was waiting for her daughter's dance class to end at the library when she was targeted.

"The accused came in and the next thing I knew the girl beside me was being viciously attacked and I knew I had to leave," Till said.

"I can't even remember how I got out. Then I came face to face with him [again] and my whole life was forever changed."

Till said that apart from losing her left eye, her nose had to be reconstructed. A specialist had to be brought in to locate all the bone fragments in her face that had been scattered by the stabbing.

Till's children all had trouble sleeping for a long time after the attack, she said, and the family has only managed to get through this trauma thanks to extensive counselling.

She added that she used to tell her children to go into the world boldly, without fear, but she doesn't any more.

"I used to live by this too. I can no longer do this. I can no longer live by what I once preached. I am scared," Till said.

'What kind of monster?'

Emma Henderson was a 22-year-old honour roll student at Simon Fraser University at the time of the stabbing. In her victim impact statement, she described having to put all her dreams on hold because of what happened.

Staring directly at Bandaogo, Henderson said, "I remember asking, what kind of monster — what kind of monster — could go around stabbing people in a library?"

On the day of the attack, she had gone to the library to treat herself to a coffee during a study break. Bandaogo backed her into a fence and stabbed her multiple times in the face and hand, the court heard.

"I heard screams, horrible piercing screams of someone in agony. I realized later that these were my screams," Henderson told the court.

"I remember laying there, mind racing, wishing I was dead, wondering if I was dead and then realizing I was alive."

She said she has struggled to return to normal life and has been unable to work since the stabbing. The scars on her face bring her pain every time she looks in the mirror, and she tries to hide them as much as possible. She still fears using transit or going shopping, and has occasional panic attacks.

"I will never get back to the person I was before," Henderson said.

She ended her statement by turning once again to Bandaogo and raising her voice.

"People say forgive and forget. I will never forgive. I will never forget it. I will try to move on and live my life, but I will never forgive," Henderson said.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue on Thursday and Friday.

With files from Benoit Ferradini, Karin Larsen

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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