Saint-Ignace woman's killer sent to prison for manslaughter

Erika Vautour was 39 at the time of her death. The judge said it was clear the woman's death has haunted her parents.  (Frenette Funeral Home - image credit)
Erika Vautour was 39 at the time of her death. The judge said it was clear the woman's death has haunted her parents. (Frenette Funeral Home - image credit)

A judge has sentenced an Elsipogtog man to almost six years in prison for killing a Saint-Ignace woman three years ago in a home invasion.

Noel John Sock, 34, admitted last month he killed Erika Ann Vautour, 39, with a firearm on March 8, 2020. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month on what was to be the first day of his trial.

Court of King's Bench Justice Richard Petrie sentenced Sock to eight years in prison Thursday morning in Moncton. That time will be reduced because he is credited 782 days for time he has already spent in custody.

The judge said it was clear the woman's death has haunted her parents and that no sentence would be proportionate to their loss.

"It's all quite devastating," Petrie said in his decision.

Shot during robbery

Vautour was found unresponsive inside a home on Saint-Ignace Road in the eastern New Brunswick community, about 19 kilometres north of Elsipogtog. She was taken to hospital where she later died.

Sock was the third person to plead guilty and to be sentenced in connection with Vautour's death.

Rhona Joseph of Elsipogtog was sentenced last September to four years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter with a firearm, and wearing a face mask with intent to commit an indictable offence.

Kelsey Clair of Elsipogtog was sentenced last March to two years and one day in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to rob Vautour of drugs while using a prohibited handgun.

On Thursday, Petrie read an agreed statement of facts that said Sock and two others went to Vautour's home with guns and were masked.

Vautour heard glass break and told her partner she thought they were being robbed. Vautour grabbed a machete and flashlight, opened the front door and told her partner the people were armed.

She closed the door and was then shot in the head through the door. Two of the people came into the house, asking "Where is the stuff?"

Vautour's partner took a gun away from Joseph and tried to shoot her, but the gun was not loaded.

An autopsy determined Vautour died of the gunshot wound to her head.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Crown prosecutor Katie Myers read victim impact statements, before the judge issued the sentence, written by Vautour's parents, Gisèle Vautour and Eric Thorne.

Thorne's statement says his days are now filled with anguish.

"All I have left are my memories of her and a cold, black stone that marks her final resting place," Thorne wrote.

He said he's haunted by memories of seeing his daughter in hospital after she was shot, her head half covered in bandages and "hearing the small whimper she made every time she struggled for a breath."

Gisèle Vautour's statement says the crime has had a deep impact on her life. It left her isolated from friends and without a daughter who provided help around her home.

She wrote that her life now is a vicious cycle of pain and trying to escape the pain.

Gisèle Vautour said she retired in 2019 and bought a used RV she had imagined using with her daughter.

"You can just imagine the great adventures we had planned. All gone now because of the heartless actions of Noel John Sock that took my daughter's life."

Gisèle Vautour wrote that she prays every night she is dead before Sock is free.

"My daughter mattered," she wrote.

The sentence was jointly recommended by Crown prosecutors and Sock's defence lawyer, Alex Pate.

"This crime is more near murder than near accident," Myers told the judge.

The judge agreed, and said previous cases set the appropriate range for circumstances as seven to 10 years in prison.

Sock sat slumped over in the prisoner's box, his head between his hands as the judge read the facts of the case.

In a brief statement to the judge before sentencing, Sock said "I'm sorry."