Man in mass stabbing at B.C. library gets life sentence with no parole for 15 years

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A Crown attorney says the motives behind a deadly mass stabbing at a library in North Vancouver, B.C., two years ago may never be known, after the man who wielded the knife was handed a life term with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Yannick Bandaogo's attack at the Lynn Valley public library left one woman dead and several other people with permanent injuries.

On Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey R.J. Gaul said Bandaogo had acted in "murderous rage," as he handed down the mandatory life sentence for second-degree murder.

Bandaogo, 30, was also sentenced to an eight-year prison term for each of six attempted murder charges, as well as a three-year term for one count of aggravated assault. All terms are to be served concurrently, Gaul said.

The non-parole period of 15 years matched the amount jointly suggested by prosecutors and Bandaogo's defence. Second-degree murder carries a life term, with a non-parole period of 10 to 25 years.

Prosecutor Daniel Loucks said outside court that he hoped the sentencing brought some closure for victims, families and the community.

"In a senseless crime like this, it's difficult or impossible to make sense of it," Loucks said. "That is at the heart of this particular matter.

"Getting an answer to that is something which the media has wondered about — I know the victims have wondered about — and unfortunately, an answer is not forthcoming and isn't available to us."

During sentencing, conducted in French, Gaul sharply rebuked Bandaogo for his "irreversible" actions.

"During your murderous rage on March 27, 2021, you caused the death of (the murder victim), a young woman who had her life in front of her," Gaul told Bandaogo. "Then you caused a number of serious injuries and severe psychological trauma to others."

Neither the murdered woman nor her relatives can be named because of a publication ban.

Bandaogo, who appeared at the sentencing in a red jumpsuit and did not speak during Thursday's proceedings, did not know his victims and has offered no explanation of his motives.

Defence lawyer Georges Rivard said Thursday that his client "accepted his responsibility" in the attack, although Bandaogo himself cannot explain why he did it.

"It's a tragic case," Rivard said. "And it's come to a conclusion. Whether or not people find closure, I can't comment on that. It remains something very tragic."

Bandaogo, who is originally from Quebec, pleaded guilty to all charges on May 29.

He apologized to each of his victims in a July hearing, as he described his "story of self-destruction," involving a troubled childhood and heavy drug use before the attack.

An agreed statement of facts said Bandaogo, who was homeless at the time of the attack, went to the library, where a book sale was taking place.

A woman was working on a laptop computer near the book sale entrance when Bandaogo stabbed her 12 times without warning. She died.

Sheloah Klausen saw the attack and attempted to stop Bandaogo by hitting him with an umbrella. Another victim, Gary Mortenson, tried to help Klausen and both were stabbed, along with Susanne Till, inside the library.

Bandaogo was then lured to exit the library by an unnamed witness, away from the book sale, which was "full of people."

Once outside, Bandaogo stabbed three more people including Emma Henderson before being surrounded and arrested by police — but not before slashing his own left wrist.

The court earlier heard impact statements from victims and their relatives in July, including the mother of the woman who was killed, who said the death of her "gentle" and "fearless" daughter shattered the family.

Till lost an eye in the attack and said she suffers frequent headaches.

She told the court that equally traumatizing was the effect on her three children, one of whom was at the scene of the attack and rode in the ambulance with her to hospital while holding her blood-covered cellphone.

Henderson, who was stabbed in the face, told the court in July that she suffered a deviated septum and other severe injuries to her nose and mouth, and suffered constant pain and anxiety from the incident.

"I remember asking, 'What kind of monster would go around stabbing people in a library?' No one could give me an answer," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2023.

Chuck Chiang, The Canadian Press