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Bowden woman’s murder highlights domestic violence costs, Calgary court justice says

Ross McInneswas sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 15 years
MVT Kirsten Gardner O’Donoghue 3
Ross McInnes murdered Kirsten (Gardner) O'Donoghue, 25, at her Bowden apartment on March 22, 2021. Facebook photo

The horrific murder of Kirsten Gardner highlights the ongoing need for domestic violence to be condemned and combated at every turn, according to Justice Jim Eamon.

Gardner, a mother of twin boys, was strangled to death in her Bowden home on March 22, 2021 by on-again, off-again boyfriend Ross Arran McInnes.

On May 13, McInnes pleaded guilty in Court of King’s Bench Calgary to a charge of second degree murder and was sentenced by Justice Eamon to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 15 years.

In an agreed statement of facts, McInnes admitted severely beating Gardner before killing her.

In passing sentence on McInnes, Justice Eamon called Gardner’s killing a a clear-cut case of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is something that has to be denunciated in the strongest terms,” said Eamon. “In this case (Gardner’s two children) have been deprived of something that is of fundamental importance to them. The harm is profound.”

Speaking directly to the accused, the justice said, “Kirsten Gardner invited you into her home and allowed you into her home and the response to her generous spirit was to kill her.”

A suicide note written by McInnes was recovered in Gardner’s home following her death. In the note, McInnes expresses anti-female views, including claiming that men are treated unfairly by the justice system.

“The law is very unfair. It favours women regardless (if) the man is innocent or guilty. The law system is fixed and unfair and breaks many men,” the note states.

In response, Justice Eamon said, “Frankly, when I read that suicide letter, the accused is clear about how he feels about persons of the other gender. The kinds of things that are expressed in that letter, about the legal system being (expletive) and preferring men and so on is, one, highly offensive to reasonable people.

“Secondly, those kinds of views are offensive to the legal system in that it tends to undercut public confidence.”

Speaking to sentencing, Crown prosecutor Ryan Ziegler said, “This was a cruel murder that Mr. McInnes actuated against a mother of two in a home that he was invited into. Ultimately the sentence that this court imposes must give expression to the public’s collective outrage, and well as the notion that women are still not safe in their own homes.”

There is a “strain of misogyny that cuts across” the suicide note, he said.

At the time of the murder, McInnes was under a court order that included a requirement that he take domestic violence awareness counselling, he noted.

Also during the May 13 court appearance, several family members of Gardner read victim impact statements, including Kirsten’s mother, who expressed the profound loss her family has suffered.

“I have unimaginable sadness that will never go away,” Christina Ramage said. “Life will never be the same and I will never be the same. Ross, in my opinion, I hope you never feel peace as you have chosen for our family to never have peace again. 

“There is no excuse for what you did to her. You are a coward and obviously have no remorse for your actions and there is no amount of prison time that will ever satisfy me.”

The Mountain View Emergency Shelter Society has named its under-construction emergency shelter in Olds Kirsten’s Place in tribute to Gardner.

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