Alice Dort says it’s hard to tell her 12-year-old grandson why his aunt — her beloved daughter — is dead.
What’s harder is explaining why the man who strangled Stephine Beck and dumped her body in a snowbank was sentenced to just one day in jail.
“To me that wasn’t justice,” Dort said yesterday as she stood outside the unfamiliar surroundings of a Toronto courthouse, snow drifting to the ground.
Beck’s body was found March 4, 2007.
Dort travelled from her home in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley to be in the Ontario Court of Appeal as the Crown argued to have the sentence handed to construction worker Wayne Ryczak set aside. A protest rally also took place in St. Catharines, close to Beck’s home.
Dort described her daughter as a compassionate person and animal lover whose true nature was erased by the label “sex trade worker.” After high school, she got mixed up with a boyfriend who was into drugs and followed him to Ontario, where he acted as her pimp.
She was 14 weeks pregnant and almost 30 years old when she died.
Ryczak, a 55-year-old first offender, had a dark side, too. Though known to use drugs and prostitutes, he told a court Beck was a stranger he found inside his trailer and he acted in self-defence when she attacked him with a lamp and, later, glass. He pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter.
The Crown had asked for a prison sentence of between seven and 10 years. Instead, Justice Stephen Glithero, left only with Ryczak’s testimony, sentenced him to one day of incarceration, in addition to 30 months’ credit for the 14 months and 10 days he spent in pre-trial custody.
Hoping “to see some justice” yesterday, Dort was instead trapped in a maze of emotions.
“Anger. A lot of hurt. A bit of confusion. I don’t really understand the process.”