*Editor’s note: This story includes graphic details that may not be suitable for all readers*
One of the two men accused in the death of Barry Goodswimmer has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. Allan Hamelin pleaded guilty to manslaughter and indecently interfering with human remains in Grande Prairie Provincial Court on October 17th.
According to the agreed statement of facts, 51-year-old Goodswimmer was partying at a home on Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation with multiple other residents on the night of June 15, 2019. It’s reported that, without provocation, then 22-year-old Hamelin began assaulting the victim around 3 a.m. the next morning.
Goodswimmer was knocked off a chair and his torso, arms, legs, and head were beaten with a golf club and then a baseball bat when the club broke. He was restrained by the other accused, then 39-year-old Harlin Martineau, leaving him unable to protect himself.
As he was bleeding and pleading for his life, witnesses report the two men then dragged Goodswimmer onto an ATV, which they drove down a trail. They dumped him there, but an autopsy report shows he had not yet succumbed to his injuries.
Hamelin and Martineau left at one point but later returned and it’s reported Hamelin further beat Goodswimmer with a bat and stabbed him with the broken golf club, which ended his life.
Later on June 16th, Hamelin returned to the site and proceeded to dismember Goodswimmer’s body and dispose of him in a marshy area. That night, the RCMP got a report of an attack and kidnapping and their investigation led them to find Hamelin with his ATV stuck in the mud on a trail.
Both Hamelin and Martineau were then charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and assault with a weapon. A search and rescue effort was launched for Goodswimmer, and it wasn’t until June 30th that some of his remains were found roughly 20 to 30 metres from the ATV trail.
The rest of his remains were discovered on July 2nd, along with a golf club and clothing that had Hamelin’s DNA on it. The Medical Examiner’s report found the victim sustained multiple blunt force wounds as well as puncture wounds that could have been caused by a golf club, baseball bat, or both.
This week had originally been set aside for a trial for both Hamelin and Martineau, but Martineau pleaded guilty to manslaughter on September 23rd and will be back in court on November 4th for an arraignment to hear sentencing submissions from the Crown and defence.
The Crown and defence lawyer Chris Millsap jointly agreed to the reduced plea of manslaughter and indecently interfering with human remains. They also jointly submitted the sentencing recommendation of 14 years in prison, 12 for the manslaughter charge and two for the indignity to be served consecutively.
When Justice Eldon Simpson asked why the Crown would agree to a manslaughter charge considering the seriousness of the attack, Crown Prosecutor Shannon Davis explained that there could be a risk in going to trial on a murder charge as they would have to prove to the jury without a reasonable doubt that Hamelin’s intention was to kill the victim and that the proof wouldn’t be circumstantial.
The joint sentencing submission considered aggravating factors to be that the offence was “near murder”, there were elements of planning, there was extreme violence, Hamelin was unrelenting in his attack, weapons were used when the victim was unarmed, and there were multiple assaults in multiple locations. The court also heard that Goodswimmer’s family has found they are unable to move on from his death and that the impact on the community has been significant, noting he was a father of four and grandfather of four.
Mitigating factors were that the offender pleaded guilty before trial, his documented significant mental health issues, and Gladue factors. Gladue refers to a court case that set out principles for recognizing the unique circumstances of Indigenous peoples. Hamelin, who is an Indigenous man, chose to waive his right to a Gladue report, but the judge is required to still consider the factors.
Hamelin did not finish high school and is only employed part-time by his father. It’s noted there was some chaos in his home life growing up, and he first experimented with drugs and alcohol as young as nine or 10 years old.
In accepting the sentence submission, Justice Simpson called the crime “unexplained, unprovoked, and beyond understanding”. He also acknowledged that there is never truly closure for cases like this one when a community member has been taken away.
He noted that the sentence of 12 years was on the higher end for similar manslaughter cases, but the sentence of two years was essentially the lowest possible for the indignity charge, arguing that the Crown took into consideration the total length of the consecutive sentence.
Hamelin has been in custody for 40 months since his arrest. With a standard 1.5 credit for time served pre-sentencing, his sentence has been reduced by 60 months or five years. He will also have his DNA submitted to a data bank and will be prohibited from possessing firearms, crossbows, restricted weapons, ammunition or explosive substances for 10 years and for life upon any further convictions.