Father of four was a ‘king among men’ who loved life, family says

Joe Gauthier was a one of a kind, a wild guy with a big heart who loved life, says his family.

“His smile could light up a room and his laugh was so contagious, he made others laugh with him,” sister-in-law Briana Gauthier said Friday during the sentencing hearing in B.C. Supreme Court for the man who killed the 35-year-old father of four two years ago.

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Daniel Creagh sat impassively in the prisoner’s dock as Briana read her victim impact statement into the record. The large man with a spiky mohawk and slim beard had just pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the stabbing death of Gauthier on March 10, 2018, outside a house on Hillside Avenue.

Gauthier, who was unarmed, was stabbed through the heart after telling Creagh to just walk away.

It was clear on Friday that his family members are unable to walk away from their grief.

Gauthier is the father of Jayden, 17, Joseph, 14, Kai, 11, and five-year-old Karter, Crown prosecutor Jeni Gillings told the court. He is the second oldest in a family of four boys and is survived by his mother, Darlene Hogue, two brothers and seven nieces and nephews.

Gauthier moved to Victoria from Winnipeg when he was nine, said Gillings. He had many close friends, was active in sports and loved doing anything outdoors. He was a fixture in the football community and had a close bond with his son Joseph, who played football, said Gillings. “He went to every practice and every game.”

Although they did not all live in Victoria at the time of his death, all of his children were very important to him and are now struggling with their loss, said Gillings.

Gauthier was extremely close to his mother, Darlene Hogue, and his death has overwhelmed her and paralyzed her with grief and sadness, she said.

A statement from Gauthier’s 14-year-old son Joseph, addressed “to the guy who took my dad’s life,” brought many people to tears.

In his victim impact statement, Joseph, who was 12 at the time of his dad’s death, said he will never forget going to the hospital and hearing the news.

“I will never see him again, hug him again. I will never do something as little as arm-wrestle with him again. But most of all, I will never be able to look at my dad and tell him I love him. And to be honest, there are really no words for that,” he wrote.

“I will never have him on the sidelines cheering me on at my games. … I turned 13 without him, started high school without him by my side and even played my first high school football game without him.”

Briana talked about how excited Gauthier was when her husband asked him to be the best man at their wedding.

“Sadly, Joe came to our wedding in a photo frame, which my maid of honour carried down the aisle and sat on an empty stool beside my groom, Andre,” she said tearfully.

Crista Turcotte spoke of Gauthier’s smile and zest for life.

“He could make you laugh like no other. He really was a king among men. He was one in a million — a father, a son, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle and a friend. … So many lives have been shattered by this,” she said.

“Now here we are almost two years later, relationships forever changed, families broken, my own included, still mourning the loss of the man we all loved, mourning the what-ifs and what could have been, mourning all his hopes and dreams.”

Gauthier’s mother needed a minute to compose herself before speaking. Gillings placed her hand on Hogue’s arm, comforting her. When she was ready, Hogue looked at her family and friends and thanked everyone for going through the past two years with her.

“Joe lived at home with me. He was my protector. He was my best friend,” she said.

She said her home used to be filled with love and laughter, but now she feels she is failing her grandsons and she misses the person she used to be.

“It’s a daily struggle for me to watch my family hurt. I know Joe was no angel, but he didn’t deserve to be taken,” she said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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