'Just verdict:' Calgary man convicted of murder in death of girlfriend's daughter

·2 min read

CALGARY — A man has been convicted of murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter.

Ivy Wick was injured on Sept. 27, 2017, and died in a Calgary hospital of head and brain injuries eight days later.

An autopsy revealed she suffered blunt-force trauma, which prompted homicide investigators to take over the case.

Justin Bennett, who is now 27, was charged with murder a year later following a confession to undercover police officers.

He told an undercover officer that he grew angry after being interrupted by the child, smashed her in the head, threw her against a wall and then tripped her.

"I didn't mean to do it. I really didn't. I was just angry and I freaked out and I basically killed my kid. I wish I would've just left her alone, not got angry," Bennett told the officer in a Mr. Big operation, in which undercover police befriend a suspect and bring him into a fake organization with the goal of eliciting a confession.

"I just snapped. I was tired of it so tired of taking care of an ungrateful kid. I tell ya, I was not proud that day. Disgusted."

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon said it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that Bennett is guilty of second-degree murder.

"Mr. Bennett caused the death of Ivy, insofar as Mr. Bennett hit Ivy on her head, threw her into the wall and tripped her," Nixon told court Friday.

Nixon didn't believe Bennett's story that the victim fell and hurt herself accidentally. Nor did he accept that the girl's mother, who was taking a shower at the time, could have been to blame.

"I find that Ivy's injuries did not occur as a result of a simple trip and fall. Rather I find that the severity of her injuries, as well as multiple impact points, can only be explained by an inflicted cause," Nixon said.

"I find that the Crown has established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Bennett committed culpable homicide."

A sentencing date is to be set April 16 once court hears how long psychiatric and presentence reports will take.

Bennett faces an automatic sentence of life in prison, but it has to be determined when he would be eligible to seek parole.

The prosecutor said she was pleased with the verdict.

"We feel this is the just verdict based on all of the evidence," chief Crown prosecutor Suzanne Kendall said outside court.

"We're hoping now that today's decision will allow Ivy's mother, Helen, and her family the ability for some closure and to move on from this horribly, tragic event in their lives."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2021.

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press