ROSE VALLEY, Saskatchewan – A Canadian father who left his two toddler daughters to die in a blizzard wearing only diapers and T-shirts was sentenced to three years in prison Friday.
The sentencing came four months after Christopher Pauchay pleaded guilty to a single count of criminal negligence for causing the girls' deaths.
He lost the 1- and 3-year-olds while walking to a neighbor's house during a storm Jan. 29, 2008, with the wind chill hovering at 58 degrees below zero. Pauchay's family said he was drunk at the time.
Pauchay was suffering severe frostbite when he eventually made it to the neighbor's home and was taken to a hospital. Eight hours later, when he was able to speak, he asked about his children — setting off a frantic search that ended hours later when the girls were found dead in a field.
Pauchay's common-law wife, who publicly said she would stand by him after he pleaded guilty, was not at home when the girls died. The couple had another baby girl earlier this year.
Defense lawyer Ron Piche told the court this week that Pauchay was a doting father who had a momentary lapse in judgment.
"There's a lot of people that think wrongly about me. Those were my girls and I loved them," the 24-year-old Pauchay said.
However, provincial court Judge Barry Morgan said Friday that he felt Pauchay lacked insight into his behavior and wasn't willing to accept responsibility for what happened.
Pauchay, a member of the Yellow Quill First Nation, told a sentencing circle last month that he should never have been charged with a crime and described the deaths as an accident.
Prosecutor Marylynne Beaton argued Pauchay deserved to serve 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison. She said Pauchay made a choice to get drunk while he was taking care of his daughters and also rejected an offer of help from a brother-in-law who realized Pauchay was drunk that night.
Pauchay has 52 convictions, most of them for property offenses and failing to show up for court appearances or comply with court orders.
The 900-member Yellow Quill First Nation has been plagued for decades by alcohol abuse, high unemployment and a lack of housing.
After the girls' death, Chief Robert Whitehead called for an addiction treatment center on the reserve. A plan is still in the works and in the hands of the Saskatoon Tribal Council, he said.