A Surrey man whose great-niece was killed nearly four years ago says he hasn’t missed a day of court proceedings that are underway this month in the case against her mother Lisa Batstone.
But it hasn’t been easy, said Don McGibbon.
“The last six days have been kind of devastating,” McGibbon told Peace Arch News Monday, during a break in testimony at BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.
“She was just beautiful,” McGibbon said of eight-year-old Teagan, noting he and his family had worried about Teagan’s safety “for years” before her death in December 2014.
“She was a beautiful child.”
Teagan’s body was found in the back of a car in a cul-de-sac just south of Crescent Road just after noon on Dec. 10, 2014, and her mother was arrested at the scene.
Judge-alone proceedings to determine whether Batstone’s statements prior to being advised of her right to counsel are admissible in trial began earlier this month and are expected to conclude this week.
Monday morning, Justice Catherine Murray heard testimony from Peace Arch Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Maskall and PAH social worker Jennifer Culbert, who both had direct interactions with Batstone at the hospital that day.
Both shared statements attributed to Batstone, including disturbing accounts of how Teagan died.
The mother and daughter had been having a “camp out” in their living room the night before, but Batstone was “frequently awakening,” Maskall told the court, reading from his report on his interview with the then-41-year-old.
Batstone told him that Teagan “looked so peaceful sleeping and I just wanted her to be with Jesus,” Maskall said.
“She proceeded to take a plastic bag and hold it over (her daughter’s) face.”
According to Maskall’s report, Batstone said she killed her daughter to “protect” the youngster from her father – who the court heard Batstone had an “acrimonious” relationship with – and because she didn’t want Teagan to “have her (mother’s) brain.”
“Lisa tells me it was then her intention to kill herself and die with her daughter.”
Maskall later noted that Batstone had struggled with mental health since her teens. She was involuntarily hospitalized in 2012, and told Maskall she had asked for psychiatric help months before Teagan’s death.
Batstone had been scheduled to see a psychiatrist in January 2015, Maskall noted.
Maskall confirmed to defense counsel Rebecca McConchie that Batstone “told you she had not had any thoughts of harming her daughter” prior to killing her. He agreed that a stressor for Batstone prior to Teagan’s death was a falling-out with her church.
“She felt that she and Teagan had been ostracized… betrayed by her church,” he said.
Maskall agreed that Batstone was motivated to kill her daughter by a need to protect her – “that seemed to be a big part of it,” he said, confirming he noted no other motivation.
Maskall also confirmed McConchie’s suggestion that while he didn’t find Batstone acutely psychotic at the time of his assessment, that “didn’t preclude the possibility Miss Batstone was psychotic when she killed her daughter.”
Asked if police had told Maskall that they intended to interrogate Batstone about her child’s death that night, Maskall said no.
Culbert – after asking the judge if she was obligated to answer all of the questions, noting patient confidentiality – told the court that a distraught Batstone – handcuffed and in a wheelchair in the ‘quiet room’ at PAH – detailed to her the tragic turn of the “camp out,” saying she had killed Teagan. Culbert said Batstone repeatedly referenced Teagan’s dad, “saying several times, ‘You win, Gabe.’”
Culbert shared Batstone’s description to her of how she had suffocated her daughter then tried to kill herself. She said Batstone noted other stressors, including finances, and described how she had first held a knife over Teagan, “but she couldn’t do it… (couldn’t) put the knife into Teagan.”
Culbert said there was one statement that has “kind of not ever left my mind – that she had done this to spite Gabe.”
Closing submissions on the proceedings are expected to take place Friday or Monday. Batstone’s trial is anticipated to get underway during the last week of October.