Victims of a stabbing spree and their relatives told a British Columbia Supreme Court sentencing hearing how their lives were shattered two years ago by the deadly attack in and around the Lynn Valley Library in North Vancouver, B.C.
Yannick Bandaogo, 30, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and several attempted murder charges earlier this year.
Several victims spoke before Justice Geoffrey R.J. Gaul at Wednesday’s hearing in New Westminster, including the mother of the lone victim killed in the attack.
The woman said her daughter was “fearless” and “gentle,” and her death had destroyed their family.
“We’re left merely to exist,” the woman told the court.
The victim’s father held his wife throughout the testimony, occasionally glaring at Bandaogo, who was seated in the back of the courtroom.
Neither the young woman who died in the attack nor her relatives can be identified due to a publication ban on the victim’s name.
Another victim, Emma Henderson, told the court she was a university student who was getting coffee to “reward” herself between school assignments when she was attacked outside the library.
Henderson described being pushed into a fence, thrown to the ground and stabbed in the face.
“I heard screams,” she said. “Horrible, piercing screams of someone in agony. Later I realized they were my screams.”
Henderson suffered severe injuries to her nose, face and mouth and remains in constant pain, she said.
She said she needs additional surgery to fix her nose, which had failed to heal properly, and she experienced constant breathing problems.
“It’s hard to look at pictures of myself before the attack because I don’t look like that anymore,” she said, adding that her parents were apprehensive about hugging her afterwards because they were afraid of aggravating her injuries.
Henderson raised her voice and looked at Bandaogo during her testimony.
She said she still does not understand why the attack happened and cried as she described her ongoing struggles with anxiety, anger and other mental scars.
“What happened to me was a choice and a decision that I will suffer the effects of — for the rest of my life. And I had no say in it,” she said.
“I will try to move on and live my life,” Henderson said. “But I will never forgive. It was an unforgivable choice that was made, and no words can describe the impact.”
Susanne Till lost her left eye in the attack and said she still struggles with daily activities as a single mother of three children.
Till said she was waiting for her daughter to finish dance class when Bandaogo struck. She said she felt no pain, despite suffering severe blood loss from her stab wounds.
“All I could remember was, was my daughter picked up?” Till said. “I needed to know she was picked up and not left alone at dance class.”
She said police found her daughter, and the pair rode in the ambulance to hospital together, with the child clutching her mother’s blood-covered phone.
Bandaogo’s sentencing is scheduled to continue until Friday.