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Former Vernon pharmacist sentenced to 4 years for manslaughter

Shaun Ross Wiebe pleaded guilty in May to the manslaughter death of Heather Barker; sentenced Friday
Shaun Ross Wiebe was sentenced to four years in jail minus time served for the charge of manslaughter Friday, June 9, 2023. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Former pharmacist Shaun Ross Wiebe has been sentenced to four years less time served in connection with the death in a Vernon home of a former Langley resident and mother of three.

Wiebe was sentenced in Supreme Court in Vernon Friday afternoon, June 9, by Justice Alison Beames following a joint submission by Crown and defence Friday morning.

He was sentenced to four years less credit for time served which was 200 days, meaning he’s sentenced for a total of 1,261 days. Wiebe must also provide a DNA sample.

He was also given a 10-year prohibition on possessing weapons and a no-contact order with several members of the victim’s family.

Wiebe, 45, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on May 1 in connection with the March 2018 death of Heather Barker, 37. She was found unresponsive in a home at The Rise and died from her injuries in Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The court heard that Wiebe and Barker were in an intimate relationship at the time of the offence, and had lived together since August of 2017, less than eight months before the offence was committed. Barker worked at Wiebe’s business, which was called Wiebe’s Pharmacy.

Crown prosecutor Margaret Cissell noted the relationship was “tumultuous.” Both were struggling with issues with alcohol, illicit drug use and depression. Wiebe was also taking steroids, which Cissell noted had potential side effects of increased aggression and paranoia.

Both were drinking on March 15, 2018, the night of the offence. Wiebe accused Barker of taking narcotics from the pharmacy and demanded to look into Barker’s purse. A struggle ensued and Wiebe pushed Barker onto the floor. She got up and sat on the edge of the bed as Wiebe continued to interrogate her about the drugs. He then grabbed her hair, threw her on the ground, jumped onto her and repeatedly smashed her head against the floor.

Justice Beames, in her judgement, described Wiebe at this point as “enraged and seeing red.”

Barker asked Wiebe to stop, and the last thing he recalled her saying to him was that he was going to kill her.

Around 2 a.m., Wiebe called his sister in Saskatchewan and told her that Barker was breathing irregularly. His sister’s husband called 911 after she had stopped breathing and the operator later instructed Wiebe to perform CPR, which he did. Barker was taken to hospital by ambulance, where it was found she had numerous injuries including bruising, broken ribs and brain injuries that were observable on a CT scan.

Barker never regained consciousness. She was put on life support, and the day after the offence, she died after being taken off life support.

The court heard Wiebe had faced numerous challenges between 2015 and the date of the killing. His marriage had broken down and his ex-wife had left Vernon with their son. It was noted that Wiebe had not seen his son in years.

“Wiebe was in a downward spiral, substantially abusing alcohol and steroids,” Justice Beames said.

Wiebe was arrested on Jan 17, 2021 after a sting operation and charged with manslaughter. He was held in jail until he had secured bail and was released on June 3 of that year. Defence counsel noted Wiebe had not breached his bail conditions in two years. Wiebe had also taken treatment for his drug and alcohol issues and sought treatment for depression.

Justice Beames noted several mitigating factors, including that Wiebe had pleaded guilty, avoiding a potentially lengthy and complex trial; he had no prior criminal record; and was a productive member of society before the offence.

Aggravating factors were that the offence was committed against a domestic partner in her home on Cordon Place at The Rise, where she ought to have been safe, and that she was intoxicated at the time and thus less able to defend herself.

Several victim impact statements were read aloud, including statements by Barker’s three daughters.

The eldest daughter described the loss of her mother as “a void in my heart that will never be filled.”

Beames described the statements by Barker’s daughters as “moving.”

“I can confidently say Ms. Barker would be proud of them,” she added.

Upon rendering her sentence, Beames noted that the four-year sentence was at the low end of the typical range of sentencing for manslaughter, but was nonetheless appropriate.

“No sentence imposed upon Mr. Wiebe will undo the harm caused by his action,” Beames said. “His violence against her that night was horrific and is inexcusable.”

Before receiving his sentence, Wiebe was given the opportunity to address the court. Wiebe said he never intended to kill Barker and expressed remorse to the family.

“I am sorry and I do have regret,” he said.

READ MORE: Guilty plea on manslaughter charge entered by former Vernon pharmacist

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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