Sometimes 'good people do terrible things,' says judge sentencing Steve Bragg for murder of Victoria Head

·2 min read
Steve Bragg has been sentenced to life in prison, with no eligibility for parole until he has served 10 years. (Terry Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Steve Bragg has been sentenced to life in prison, with no eligibility for parole until he has served 10 years. (Terry Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Terry Roberts/CBC
Terry Roberts/CBC

A Mount Pearl man has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years — the mandatory minimum for a second-degree murder charge — for strangling Victoria Head with a boot lace in St. John's in 2017.

Supreme Court Justice Donald Burrage, handing down the sentence Thursday in St. John's, said he believes Bragg's remorse is sincere and that he's a good candidate for rehabilitation.

"There are times when good people do terrible things. This is one such occasion," Burrage said.

After the sentencing, Head's father, Pierce Head took issue with Burrage's comments, saying the judge stopped just short of describing Bragg "as a saint" but said nothing about his daughter's own life's successes.

But the sentence brings closure to her grieving family, he said.

"We can say she rests in peace. We will be visiting her grave this evening."

Mike Simms/CBC
Mike Simms/CBC

Head, a 36-year-old woman from Placentia Bay, left behind a teenage daughter. Bragg, 39, was reported missing around the same time, and was located several days later at the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques. He did not become a person of interest in the crime until Head's brother saw the missing person report and told police that Bragg and Head knew each other.

Police set up surveillance on Bragg, and obtained a DNA sample that they matched to DNA on the lace that was used to strangle Head. He was arrested in December 2017 and pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing Oct. 20, Bragg's defence team asked for the minimum sentence — life with no chance of parole for 10 years — and Bragg asked for forgiveness from Head's family.

"I'm here to accept responsibility and punishment for my actions," he said at the time. "I hope others can learn from my mistakes."

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

On Thursday, Pierce Head rejected Bragg's apology and said the family is disappointed by the sentence, saying the 10-year eligibility for parole is too low.

"I'm glad that it's over, but for myself personally I'm not happy with the decision," Head told reporters.

Bragg's lawyer, Bob Buckingham, told reporters there were no winners on Thursday.

"These events are tragic any which way you look at it. Nothing is going to bring Ms. Head back," he said.

"Mr. Bragg has acknowledged his remorse. He's upset with this, he's accepted responsibility. So the judge has sentenced an individual and that's what sentencing is all about. He will hopefully get a chance to lead a productive life."

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