South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone is appealing her second-degree murder conviction and sentence, rendered in connection with the December 2014 smothering death of her eight-year-old daughter Teagan. (File photos)

South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone is appealing her second-degree murder conviction and sentence, rendered in connection with the December 2014 smothering death of her eight-year-old daughter Teagan. (File photos)

Judge who convicted South Surrey mother of murder ‘filled gaps’ in evidence: defence

Lisa Batstone, who killed her daughter in 2014, is appealing her conviction and sentence

Warning: This article contains details that may be disturbing to some readers

The judge who convicted Lisa Batstone of second-degree murder for suffocating her daughter with a plastic bag in December 2014 found that all of the South Surrey mother’s actions and words after the killing support the conclusion that she had intended to cause eight-year-old Teagan’s death that morning.

And that finding, defence counsel Rebecca McConchie submitted in B.C. Court of Appeal Tuesday (March 30), was a mistake.

“It’s hard to see how the judge could have reached this conclusion,” McConchie told Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justices Mary Saunders and Richard Goepel, regarding the judgment rendered against Batstone by Justice Catherine Murray on March 22, 2019.

“She didn’t explain how or why she came to this exceedingly unusual conclusion.”

READ MORE: South Surrey mother guilty of second-degree murder in death of daughter

Batstone, who killed her daughter in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, 2014, is appealing both her conviction and her sentence. She was charged with second-degree murder after Teagan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in a cul-de-sac off Crescent Road, and following trial, was sentenced to 15 years before she could apply for release.

READ MORE: South Surrey mother appeals murder conviction, sentence

The only issue at trial was whether Batstone had intended to kill her daughter.

Prosecutors contended that evidence made it clear that this was indeed the case. They pointed to the fact that Batstone never called 911, and that she left notes that read, “I’m so sorry” and “you win Gabe, you broke me,” as well as a four-page letter with phrases that included, “I couldn’t imagine leaving here and leaving her to him.”

Defence counsel had argued that the mother’s level of intoxication at the time she killed Teagan – along with borderline personality traits, significant levels of depression and a “cloud of stressors” – may have limited her ability to gauge the consequences of her actions.

Murray, however, said she was “not convinced” that Batstone’s mental health was the reason for the murder, rather, that “Teagan was the pawn in her mother’s revenge” against Teagan’s father, Gabe Batstone, for the collapse of their marriage.

She found the mother’s actions were “purposeful and goal-driven,” and that “whatever the motive… the only possible inference is that her intent was to end Teagan’s life.”

In the Court of Appeal hearing on Tuesday – held virtually – McConchie said Murray reached her conclusion by filling gaps in the evidence through speculation. Murray determined that Batstone had purposefully chosen a thick plastic bag to use on Teagan, that she watched her daughter die for four to five minutes, and in what order Batstone took the steps that she did following Teagan’s death, McConchie said in citing examples to support her argument.

However, “not only was there no evidence from which the trial judge could have made the findings about the order of events… her findings were actually inconsistent with the evidence that did exist,” McConchie said.

McConchie described Murray’s determination that Batstone’s post-offence conduct led to only one conclusion as “significantly prejudiced.”

Co-counsel Eric Gottardi told the court that his client is alleging “a number of errors which we say were central to the issue of intent.” The trial judge misapprehended important evidence, then relied on her findings of fact to dismiss the appellant’s defences, he said. As well, the judge erred in her approach to evidence of Batstone’s post-offence conduct.

“We say the appellant did not receive a fair trial,” Gottardi said, noting his client was described by many as being a loving and doting parent prior to killing Teagan.

Mark Levitz, representing the Crown, agreed that the judge had misapprehended one piece of evidence – regarding expert testimony around how long it took for Teagan to die – but said it did not go to the core of her reasoning.

Remove that evidence and “her reasons for convicting the appellant would still be on steady ground,” Levitz said.

Levitz disagreed that the trial judge found everything that Batstone did after killing Teagan to be relevant in determining intent.

She focused on emails and letters that Batstone wrote, as well as statements she made to police and medical personnel, that had a “constant” theme of wanting to end Teagan’s suffering, he said. At no point in any of those did Batstone indicate that she didn’t realize smothering her daughter would end her life, he noted.

If somehow Batstone didn’t understand she was killing Teagan, it is “inconceivable” that she didn’t seek help the moment that reality hit, Levitz said.

“It’s reasonable to assume that a loving mother who didn’t intend to cause death would immediately seek help (upon realizing she had). And she never did.”

Levitz said the defence’s evidence “at its highest fell short of raising a reasonable doubt of intent.”

The hearing concluded Tuesday afternoon. The court reserved judgment.

CourtHomicideSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks the new proposal will be bad for student athletes

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

(Photo: MOSAIC/Facebook)
Organization receives $10K from B.C. government to tackle racism in Surrey, White Rock

Funding to go toward forum for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

Most Read