Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 18, 2016 - 1:05 pm

After 12 years, brutal Nunavut killing finally resolved

"I take full responsibility for her death. I’m very sorry"

THOMAS ROHNER
Adrian Van Eindhoven leaves the Iqaluit courthouse July 15 with Rob Nuttall, one of his defence lawyers. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Adrian Van Eindhoven leaves the Iqaluit courthouse July 15 with Rob Nuttall, one of his defence lawyers. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)

Nunavut courts have finally laid to rest the gruesome 2004 killing of 22-year-old Leanne Irkootee in Rankin Inlet after her killer, Adrian Van Eindhoven, pleaded guilty July 15 to manslaughter in an Iqaluit courtroom.

Van Eindhoven, 42, sentenced to time served, emerged from the courthouse a free man shortly after 5 p.m. the same day clutching a white sack containing his personal possessions.

Nunavut Deputy Justice Casimir Herold, who normally sits on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, accepted a joint submission from lawyers July 15, which included agreement on a 15-year jail sentence.

Van Eindhoven, who successfully appealed two convictions of second-degree murder and two life sentences, has already served 12 years in prison.

With enhanced credit for time served, that translates to more than 18 years — so Van Eindhoven was free to go when the sentencing hearing ended.

Each of those convictions were successfully appealed after trial judges made mistakes — first Justice Robert Kilpatrick in 2007, and then Justice Earl Johnson in 2013.

Neither the victim’s nor the killer’s family attended court July 15.

But Crown lawyer Caroline Lirette read a statement from Irkootee’s mother:

“My life is angry, more angry than ever before, more heartache… I lost everything, I can’t forget, I use alcohol to let the pain go away… All of my family never want to see him in Rankin Inlet.”

Irkootee’s mother may get her wish.

That’s because Herold said he would take the “unusual step” of making an order to transfer Van Eindhoven “forthwith” to Winnipeg at the Government of Nunavut’s expense.

“That’s as far away as possible from the victim’s family while close to Mr. Van Eindhoven’s family in Winnipeg,” the judge said.

Shortly before Herold’s brief oral judgment, Van Eindhoven addressed the court, his hands folded in front of him, his voice cracking at times.

“Twelve years ago I woke up in the drunk tank, and was informed that Leanne passed away. I’ve been beating myself up ever since… I take full responsibility for her death. I’m very sorry… I’m going to have to live with this for the rest of my life… I’m in a lot of pain because of this. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself,” Van Eindhoven said.

“It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you can’t forgive yourself,” Herold replied.

Lirette read into the court record an agreed statement of facts, which confirmed many of the details previously revealed in Van Eindhoven’s two previous trials.

Rankin Inlet police received a call around 7:30 a.m. April 23, 2004 from Van Eindhoven’s neighbhour.

Van Eindhoven had showed up at his neighbour’s house covered in blood, crying and asking for help, the court heard.

When police arrived at Van Eindhoven’s house, they found him hunched over Irkootee’s blood-spattered and bruise-riddled body, which lay on the floor, her head propped up on a pillow.

Blood was smeared all over the house, including on a mattress that lay on the floor where Irkootee may have been stabbed, the prosecutor said.

An autopsy report revealed that Irkootee sustained a single stab wound to her chest, which pierced her heart.

Irkootee died as a result of losing at least three litres of blood, Lirette said.

But Irkootee survived “a series of blood-letting events” before Van Eindhoven stabbed and killed her, the prosecutor said.

Among the injuries sustained by Irkootee:

• bruises all over her face and inside her lips;

• the scalp on the back of her head torn away from the skull;

• a long scrape on her neck made by a rough object; and,

• at least four bite marks inflicted by Van Eindhoven, including some on her face.

Many of Irkootee’s injuries were defense wounds, Lirette said.

Both Irkootee and Van Eindhoven were likely very intoxicated at the time of Irkootee’s death, Lirette said.

But RCMP investigators were unable to measure Van Eindhoven’s blood alcohol levels at the time of his arrest, she added.

In other Nunavut cases of spousal homicide, the difference between murder and manslaughter has turned on the level of intoxication of the killer.

Herold imposed an 18-month probation order on Van Eindhoven’s release, including a condition that he have no contact with Irkootee’s family and that he notify Winnipeg police within 48 hours of arriving in that city.

After leaving the courthouse a free man, Van Eindhoven spoke to his lawyers and court staff about what personal identification he still had before getting into a cab and heading off.

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