“You took away my mom, my best friend and my life coach. I wasn’t able to say goodbye. She will never be at my graduation, my wedding or see her grandchildren. He took all of that from us.” – Samantha Shelley
It was an emotional sentencing hearing as almost a dozen family members, friends and co-workers described how Cindy’s Sullivan’s death will forever cause them immeasurable grief.
On Thursday, Justice Robert Scott sentenced Ronald Shorey to serve 13 years in a penitentiary after being convicted of manslaughter in the 2012 death of the 40-year-old Trenton woman and single mother of three.
In December 2016, 46-year-old Shorey was found guilty in the beating and then stabbing death of Sullivan during a night of heavy drinking at his home at 29 Adrian Court in Trenton. Before her death, Shorey and Sullivan had just ended their relationship.
Following submissions from Crown attorneys Paul Layefsky Pardeep Bhachu, and defence lawyer Pieter Kort, Scott agreed with the prosecution that this case sits above the normal range of sentencing for manslaughter – usually between eight and 12 years.
Eleven victim impact statements were presented to the court with Bhachu reading many aloud.
“I am broken I am a lost victim I will live with my daughter Cindy’s murder everyday for the rest of my life,” Irene Havens wrote about her eldest daughter. “I wander around lost. I get up three to four times a night. I go from room to room. I don’t know what to do. I am looking for Cindy. I can’t work. I don’t function properly. My nerves are so bad. I think about doing crazy things to myself but I have to be here for my children and grandchildren. I will live with Cindy’s murder for the rest of my life. I feel like a zombie. I am scared of people. I don’t trust anyone. What are my grandchildren supposed to do without their mother. I think about what her last thoughts were. Maybe it was her children or them calling out ‘mom’ for her, to never hear them again. This is Hell on Earth for our family to live with and for the rest of our lives.”
“I don’t have a mom anymore,” wrote Samantha Shelley. “I have really bad anxiety. I am more scared of people. I have nightmares of my mom screaming. My mom and I just started mending our relationship. She was kind, compassionate, gentle and understanding. You (Shorey) took away my mom, my best friend and my life coach. I wasn’t able to say goodbye. She will never be at my graduation, my wedding or see her grandchildren. He took all of that from us.”
Breanna Bell was 10 at the time of her mother’s death. “It has been a tough four and a half years,” she wrote. It will be very difficult living without my mom for the rest of my life.”
Bell’s father Mark has been caring for his daughter since Sullivan’s death. “Do you know what it is like to have to tell a 10 year old that her mother is dead?” I have had to hold Breanna over the loss of her mother. It has left a hole in her heart.”
Sullivan’s neighbour and friend of 18 years Julie Neale Reilly said ‘Cindy was the first person to welcome her to Adrian Court.’ She said her daughters played together and had been enjoying a sleepover on the night of Sullivan’s death. She said they knew something was wrong when they learned Sullivan had left her keys behind and didn’t go to work.
“The next few days were horrible,” said Reilly. ” Our once quiet area with kids playing turned quiet, dark and tense.”
She said she now has trouble explaining what happened to her own daughter. “How do explain something you don’t understand? She is 13 now. She has nightmares and complex questions with answers I can’t provide.”
“I have sleepless nights and panic attacks,” she admitted. “If only I had said ‘no’ to the sleepover then maybe it (Cindy’s death) wouldn’t have happened.”
Sullivan’s close friend Michelle Lemoire said the tragedy has ‘left a void in her heart that is so vast.’ She described Sullivan as a gentle, caring and giving women. “If Cindy had $5 until payday and you didn’t have milk she would give it to you,” said Lemoire. “She was a kind sweet person. She was a human being and an amazing person. Let it be heard loud an proud.”
Shorey offered no words to the victim’s family and friends. Kort maintained through his final submissions that Shorey’s admission of guilt showed he was remorseful.
“Without alcohol we couldn’t have been here,” said Scott during his ruling. “It was a huge factor.”
He pointed to a number of mitigating and aggravating factors that he took into account in reaching his verdict including: Alcohol, Shorey’s initial guilty plea to manslaughter, provocation, the weapon (knife), a history of domestic assault, Shorey’s brain injury/mental illness, the impact on the victims and the devotion shown by Shorey’s family who showed up everyday to all of the proceedings.
“There are certain themes that come out that make it a serious, serious event,” he said.
“I still have unanswered questions about how the knife was introduced,” he said. “The crown was unable to prove intent that’s why we are here at manslaughter. the nature of the wounds and beating is horrendous.”
“The impact on the victims is an aggravating feature,” he explained. “The number of people left behind who have to deal with this for the rest of their lives and an orphan left behind with a father I don’t think will be able to replace her mother in that regard.”
He said domestic violence must and shouldn’t be tolerated and it’s his obligation to the community to deal with it in that regard.
Shorey was given a credit of one and a half days for each day of the 4.5 years he has already served at the Quinte Detention Centre. It works out to a total credit of six years, six months and 24 days yet to be served.
Shorey was also handed a DNA order and a lifetime weapons prohibition.