The death of a British Columbia woman who smothered her eight-year-old daughter lifts a “significant burden” from family members who no longer have to face the prospect of her release, the girl’s father says.
“The death of Lisa Batstone, the convicted murderer of our beloved daughter Teagan, brings no cause for mourning from us,” Gabe Batstone said in a statement Wednesday.
Correctional Service Canada said Lisa Batstone, who was serving an indeterminate life sentence for suffocating her sleeping child with a plastic bag in December 2014, died in custody on Monday.
It said Batstone, who began her sentence in 2019, died in the Fraser Valley Institution and her next of kin had been notified.
The correctional service said it would inform police and the coroner, and would review the circumstances of the woman’s death.
Gabe Batstone said his ex-wife’s death did not “erase the pain and loss of Teagan,” noting lengthy legal proceedings “perpetually reopened wounds” for the family.
“However, with Lisa Batstone’s demise, a significant burden has been lifted,” he said. “We no longer face the daunting prospect of her potential release, an event that would have posed an undeniable risk to other innocent children.”
Lisa Batstone lost an appeal against her conviction for the second-degree murder of her daughter Teagan in 2022.
The Appeal Court ruling says she never came to terms with the breakdown of her marriage to Teagan’s father, and intended to kill herself and did not want to leave her daughter with him.
She was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of at least 15 years, a sentence upheld on appeal.
Chris Szafron, assistant warden for management services at the Fraser Valley Institution, said the prison was unable to provide details about how the woman died.
“We do a review of the circumstances, and because it was very recent we’re not able to provide any initial information about cause of death or anything else,” he said Wednesday.
The Appeal Court ruling says that before killing Teagan, Batstone had been “a loving and devoted mother,” with no criminal record or history of violence.
The appeal ruling says that after the murder on Dec. 10, 2014, Lisa Batstone left a note accusing her ex-husband of mental and emotional abuse, saying she feared that if Teagan lived “her dad would then betray her too.”
Batstone’s trial heard that she had previously attempted suicide in the spring of 2012.
Lisa Batstone’s claims against her ex-husband have not been substantiated.
The original Supreme Court judge found Batstone intended to smother her daughter before killing herself.
The March 2019 judgment said she killed her daughter some time between midnight and 4:35 a.m.
It said she then wrote a four-page letter explaining what she had done and why, specifically blaming the girl’s father.
She then put two bags over her own head, securing them with duct tape to smother herself, but could not follow through with the suicide. She threw out the bags, including the one she had used to smother Teagan, placing a note on top that read, “I’m so sorry.”
Later that morning, she loaded Teagan’s body into the trunk of her car as she planned to drop her dog at her dog sitter’s before attempting suicide again, the court ruling said.
But the car got stuck in a ditch, prompting her to ask for help at a home in Surrey, B.C.
A resident called 911 and first responders arrived to find Batstone in the trunk, cradling Teagan’s body and sobbing, with a superficial wound to her own neck. A large kitchen knife was found in the car.
She admitted to suffocating her daughter and the sole issue in the murder trial was whether the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she had intended to cause Teagan’s death.
Justice Catherine Murray ultimately rejected her defences relating to intoxication, mental disorder, and a combination of the two.
Aggravating factors included that the murder was not impulsive, requiring thought-out actions including choosing a heavier bag to smother Teagan’s airways, a process that took four to five minutes.
Lisa Batstone killed the girl “for completely selfish reasons,” Murray ruled.
“She wanted to kill herself and did not want (her ex-husband) to have Teagan.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2024.