N.S. man sentenced to 18 years in prison in killing of Cassidy Bernard

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WATCH: An 18-year jail sentence has been handed down to a man who killed his former partner Cassidy Bernard in 2018 -- and then left their infant twin daughters abandoned. As Callum Smith reports, it's a troubling case of intimate partner violence, but family members of the victim say they can finally start to heal – Jul 6, 2022

Warning: This article contains details that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.

The former partner of We’koqma’q First Nation woman Cassidy Bernard, and the father of her two daughters, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The sentence includes 15 years for manslaughter in Bernard’s 2018 death, and three years for child abandonment, consecutively.

Dwight Austin Isadore heard the sentencing at the Port Hawkesbury Supreme Court Wednesday morning.

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He was initially charged with second-degree murder, but the Crown accepted a guilty plea in June to the lesser charge of manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to the two counts of child abandonment.

Isadore had already served three years and 279 days.

Read more: Cassidy Bernard’s former partner pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 killing

Bernard was 22 years old when her body was discovered on Oct. 24, 2018, by her mother and her family support worker.

According to an agreed statement of facts, she was tucked in her bed at her home in Waycobah in Cape Breton, and her seven-month-old twin daughters were found in their cribs in the same bedroom, “malnourished, … confused.”

Bernard had nearly 20 supporters in the courtroom on Wednesday, including her family. Some read their victim impact statements to the court.

Bernard’s mother Mona said finding her daughter’s body, along with her infant daughters was something no mother should experience.

“Cassidy’s murder has just changed me,” Mona Bernard told the court. “I’m not the same person.”

Read more: ‘Our women are sacred’: Red dresses hung in Halifax to call for justice and honour MMIWG2S

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Now, Cassidy’s daughters are getting ready to start school in the fall and Mona has no idea how to explain what happened to their mother.

“I have lost a part of me forever,” she said.

Cassidy Bernard’s aunt Gina Poulette (left) and mother Mona Bernard (right) are seen outside the courtroom on Wednesday. The two said they were pleased with the 18-year sentence. Callum Smith

The victim’s cousin, Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley, spoke to the court on the behalf of the We’koqma’q community.

“I loved that kid so much,” she said.

Learning that Cassidy was dead, and her twins were malnourished, dehydrated and in soiled diapers, was “something that haunted me forever,” Bernard-Daisley said.

“We’koma’q was robbed of a mother, a daughter, a sister — and We’koma’q was robbed of its sense of tranquility.”

The chief concluded her statement by addressing Isadore directly, saying he will never ever step foot in her community again.

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Read more: Activists, influencers raise alarm after MMIWG content disappears from Instagram on Red Dress Day

The day Bernard was found dead, Oct. 24, 2018, Isadore gave a statement to RCMP saying he last saw Bernard on Oct. 18 and had heard from her over text on Oct. 21. He told police the two were “not that close” and they had broken up after the twins were born.

He wasn’t arrested until more than a year later, after RCMP organized an undercover investigation.

During one meeting with an undercover police officer on Nov. 30, 2019, six months into the operation, Isadore said he went to Bernard’s home on the morning of Oct. 21, 2018 and argued with her.

According to the officer’s account, Isadore detailed that he hit Bernard numerous times, and when he noticed her head had dropped, he tried to wake her up — but she never did. He then laid her in her bed, “told her that he loved her,” and tried to wipe his fingerprints from the scene. More details on the homicide are available here.

Read more: Jury in Chantel Moore coroner’s inquest rules her death a homicide

Bernard’s death has been closely tied to the Red Dress movement, calling for justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

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Isadore’s family reached out to Global News after Isadore’s plea in June, and offered a statement.

“There are no words or actions that that can explain or take away the pain and loss that Austin caused to Cassidy, her family and her loved ones. We hope that Austin’s plea brings some justice for Cassidy, the twins and their family,” said his grandmother, Patricia MacKay.

— With files from Rebecca Lau. 

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