OHS Canada Magazine

Man sentenced in death of Edmonton flower store owner during robbery in mall

25 year old pleaded guilty in May 2019 to manslaughter


August 18, 2020
By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
Categories
Health & Safety
By Colette Derworiz

EDMONTON — The wife of a flower store owner says her world collapsed when she got a hysterical call saying her husband was bleeding on the floor of a shopping mall.

Jordan Martin Cushnie, 25, pleaded guilty in May 2019 to manslaughter in the death of Iain Armstrong. He had tried to stop Cushnie from robbing a cash box from a cosmetic kiosk outside Armstrong’s Bunches florist shop at Edmonton’s Southgate Centre a year earlier.

On Monday, Justice Eldon Simpson sentenced Cushnie to six years in prison.

Simpson said Armstrong, who was 61, fell down and hit his head on a corner of another kiosk after he was punched six times by Cushnie.

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Sharon Armstrong, who was married to her husband for 37 years, said in a victim impact statement during Cushnie’s sentencing hearing earlier Monday that the morning of April 17, 2018, was a normal one as her husband headed off to work at their family-owned business.

“In a few hours, my world would collapse,” she said, explaining she received a phone call from one of their employees and immediately called her husband’s brother and business partner.

When she arrived at the mall, she saw the building surrounded by emergency vehicles, she said.

“I felt my heart drop,” she told court.

She was diverted to the University of Alberta Hospital, where she was met by police and called her son and daughter to meet her.

“We were all so scared and confused,” said Armstrong, who added that doctors started using words like “dire, catastrophic” to describe her husband’s injuries.

The family decided to take him off life support three days later.

Sharon Armstrong was one of eight family members and friends who provided victim impact statements.

The couple’s daughter, Dana Mikulasik, said her world came crashing down when she received the call that her dad was in the hospital. “I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe.”

Mikulasik said her family has a tradition in which members get to pick their favourite meal for dinner on their birthdays.

“That Friday, I was supposed to come home to my favourite food: my father’s homemade pizza,” she said through sobs. “Instead, on the eve of my 29th birthday, I sat with my family in the hospital making the decision to take my father off of life support.”

Mikulasik said her mental health has been seriously damaged.

Sean Armstrong said he will never forget hearing his mom’s voice on the phone, running in his work boots to the hospital emergency room and seeing his father on a hospital gurney.

“Such a sight was something previously unfathomable, unimaginable to me.”

He said his father was a titan among men, full of kindness and a role model.

Others — including Armstrong’s brother, sister-in-law, a friend and employees — spoke of his “ordinary goodness,” his hard-working nature and his willingness to help others.

The Crown and the defence jointly recommended the six-year sentence. Cushnie had been in custody while waiting the conclusion of his case.

Simpson said manslaughter cases can be difficult because they range from near accidents to near murders.

“Obviously, the close friends and family of Mr. Armstrong have been forever harmed,” said the judge. “Society has also been harmed.”

He said society loses its sense of safety when a tragedy happens in a public place such as a mall.

The justice said he accepted the joint recommendation because Cushnie pleaded guilty and may not have anticipated that the blows would lead to Armstrong’s death.

Cushnie was also sentenced to three years for the robbery and a year for a breach of probation, which is to be served at the same time as his six-year sentence. He will receive credit for time served, so has about three years left, said Simpson.

Sharon Armstrong said strong bonds have kept family members close, but their collective sorrow is overwhelming.

Her husband’s 85-year-old mother lost her first-born son, his brother lost a best friend and business partner, and her children have struggled, she said.

It has also led to financial losses for the business, she added.

She said she will live with her husband’s death for the rest of her life.

“So far, I have served 856 days of my life sentence of sorrow and of loss.”