Court hears victim impact statements in Strasser-Hird case

Lukas Strasser-Hird. Courtesy: Strasser-Hird Family

The victim impact statements were read in court today ahead of the sentencing for the three men convicted last June in the beating death of Lukas Strasser-Hird outside a Calgary nightclub in November 2013.

READ MORE: Jury reaches verdict in swarming death of Calgary’s Lukas Strasser-Hird

Strasser-Hird’s mother, Audrey Strasser, was not in the courtroom to read her statement.

Lukas’ maternal grandmother, Estela Strasser, told the court through her statement, that his mother moved back to Bolivia following her son’s murder because she could not bear the reminders of her life in Calgary. Audrey intended to read her victim impact statement today via video but a link was unavailable.

Many of the statements described the moment when Strasser-Hird died in the hospital.

His paternal aunt, Mary Swaffield, was holding his hand at the end and shared how she has had nightmares since.

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“The sound of the various medical machines are the background music of each dream – drowned out only by the sobbing, wailing sounds of my brother pleading with God not to take his son from him. Pleading with God to take him instead. Desperately asking how this could have possibly have happened.”

She described sitting in the hospital room looking at her nephew’s face, nearly unrecognizable, and listening to Lukas’ father begging God to please spare his son. Swaffield said the nightmares of his passing are replaced only by the harrowing image of the moment Lukas’ mother arrived at the hospital only to find out she had arrived too late as Lukas had already died.

“The image of her curled up like a ball on the floor, in the middle of the hospital hallway is burned in my memory. A mother’s anguish. As a mother myself, my heart broke into a million pieces for her.”

According to Estela Strasser, Audrey Strasser was working six hours away in northern Alberta when she got the news that her son had been attacked outside of Vinyl nightclub. She drove to Calgary immediately but did not make it in time to see him.

READ MORE: Swarming victim Lukas Strasser-Hird asked paramedics if he was going to die

His paternal grandmother, Debra Hird, shared the same haunting memory of Lukas’ family by his bedside.

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”It tore my heart out to watch his father begging Lukas to hang on…’you can do it. Your mom will be here soon…hang on Lukas.’”

His maternal grandmother described an incredibly close relationship between Lukas and his mother Audrey, and explained that not only has she lost a grandson, she has also lost her own daughter.

Estella Strasser described how Audrey has shut out the world and prays every night she will not have to face another day without her only child. “This breaks my heart all over again, as I watch, day after day, my kind, beautiful, once full-of-life Audrey, who lived for her son, living with excruciating pain and now a shell of her former self.

“I feel so helpless as I watch her fade away as she continues to isolate herself, unable to deal with the pain of her loss.”

Mary Swaffield said her nephew’s murder has robbed her children of their innocence. She described how her 7-year-old daughter is terrified that Swaffield might also be suddenly murdered and that all three of her children are tormented by nightmares as they struggle to make sense of their cousin’s death.

Swaffield said her life has been turned upside down as she now suffers from depression, has lost a job, a board position and had her own marriage fall apart.

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On June 15, 2016 Assmar Shlah and Franz Cabrera were found guilty of second-degree murder and face automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Joch Pouk was found guilty of manslaughter.

Jordan Liao was charged with second-degree murder but was acquitted.

A fifth man, Nathan Gervais, is accused of first-degree-murder in the case. He was out on bail and disappeared right before the trial. A warrant remains out for his arrest.

Sentencing is expected to be handed down later this month.

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