Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing to readers.
More details emerged in a Summerside court on Tuesday about the man who admitted killing his cousin on Lennox Island in August of 2021.
A sentencing hearing for Christopher Douglas Sark, 33, was told he tried to drown his memories of the night Jamie Sark died with drugs and alcohol. Eventually, his lawyer told the court, he called police and said: "I can't live with this."
Sark, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death in mid-September, was in tears during parts of the proceedings Tuesday.
"I'm so sorry for what I did and for everything that went down," he wrote in a statement that was read by lawyer Trish Cheverie. "I can't take the pain and the tears; they're coming back. For [Jamie Sark's] family, I can't take the suffering back, but what I can do is change and be a better person for everyone."
The Crown and defence are jointly recommending a sentence of four years less time spent in remand, as well as prohibitions on owning weapons in the future.
Crown prosecutor John Diamond said that recommendation was made balancing Christopher Sark's previous history of violence against the fact that he pleaded guilty and spared his cousin's family the trauma of a trial.
For Jamie Sark's family, it will not make their pain disappear. Nor can any remedy of the justice system. — John Diamond
"For Jamie Sark's family, it will not make their pain disappear. Nor can any remedy of the justice system," Diamond acknowledged.
Gladue reports presented
As is usual in cases involving Indigenous people convicted of serious crimes, the sentencing process included the preparation of Gladue reports.
They stem from a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that judges sentencing Indigenous offenders must take into consideration the influence of things such as intergenerational trauma and alienation stemming from racism.
Cheverie noted that both her client and the victim had their lives affected by such trauma, suffered since childhood as a result of the ongoing legacy of colonialism in Canada.
She said Christopher Sark has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to abuse he suffered as a child. The lawyer also said there is a "strong suspicion" that the impacts of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) were at play in her client's decision-making processes.
"I'm hopeful this will be a turning point for the community," Cheverie said. "There needs to be a reconciliation. My client is willing to participate in a healing process, whatever his community wants him to do, because he needs to make amends with his community."
Justice Krista MacKay said she will deliver a sentencing decision on the morning of Dec. 9.
The body of Jamie Sark, 28, was found in a wooded area of the First Nation off P.E.I.'s North Shore in November of 2021. Relatives and friends, as well as police, had been searching for him since his August disappearance.
Christopher Sark was charged the following April. He told investigators that he and his victim, both heavily intoxicated, got into a fight the night Jamie vanished. Sark told police he hit his cousin once on the head, then struck him with a bottle after he was dead.
Members of the victim's family were present in court, as they have been for every legal appearance since Christopher Sark was charged.
'Haunted' by questions, says sister
Jamie's sister Kelly Sark read a victim impact statement during the proceedings.
"I feel haunted about unanswered questions about my brother," she told the court. "I miss him so much it hurts.... I'm still struggling to come to terms with him not being able to come home."
Kelly Sark said the family spent all the savings they had during the search for Jamie — on food, gas, and posters that were distributed throughout the Maritimes. She personally delayed her education to dedicate time to the search.
Now, she told the court, she has security cameras hooked up to her home and is struggling with PTSD, anxiety and nightmares
Christopher Sark told police he later went to his mother's home and did not witness what happened to Jamie Sark's body after the fight.
Jamie Sark's mother Joyce has said the family believes other people were involved in hiding and moving his remains, but no other charges have been laid so far.
The Crown prosecutor has said police were unable to find evidence that anyone else was present during the death of Jamie Sark or involved in moving his body.