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Judge sentences Cambridge Bay man to 3.5 years for manslaughter in a case rife with woes of alcohol

NNSL file photo

Editor's note: This story contains some disturbing details. 

A Cambridge Bay man who killed a father of 12 on a night when liquor was consumed heavily has been sentenced to 3.5 years in jail and three years of probation.

"I cannot and must not use this court as an instrument of revenge or an instrument of appeasement," Justice Bonnie Tulloch said while delivering her manslaughter sentence to Raymond Komak in Cambridge Bay earlier this month.
NNSL file photo

Raymond Komak, 45, himself a father of three, pleaded guilty to the charge and repeatedly expressed remorse to the family of the victim.

The killing occurred on Jan. 25, 2019 when Komak was hosting a cribbage game at his home. He was smoking cannabis throughout the evening. He received a text from the victim, Sandy Ekpakohak, indicating that he was drunk and that he'd like to come over and drink with Komak.

Ekpakohak arrived with a 60-ounce bottle of vodka. Komak needed to be persuaded to drink and eventually relented and indulged. Others left as the night went on.

By 4 a.m., Komak's wife arrived with three others to check on her husband. They found the victim dead on the living room floor in a pool of blood. He had been stabbed with a steak knife once in the upper back.

Her husband was asleep on their bed. The police arrived hours later and arrested Komak. They made note of his minor injuries and dried blood on his hands.

The victim's autopsy revealed that he had more than four times the legal blood alcohol limit for driving a motor vehicle.

Komak told the police that he and Ekpakohak had been fighting but then he blacked out and had no memory of the stabbing.

"The accused admits that he acted in the heat of passion caused by Sandy's sudden, provocative, intoxicated and aggressive behaviour," Justice Bonnie Tulloch stated. "He is the one that used excessive force and he admits that in those circumstances he is guilty of

Although Komak has a criminal history of violent offences, he began to reform in 2012 after becoming a father and abstaining from alcohol, Tulloch noted.

While jailed awaiting trial, Tulloch described Komak as a "model prisoner" in Iqaluit: he participated in counselling, completed the substance abuse program at Baffin Correctional Centre, passed a course in first aid and CPR, passed the trades entrance exam and finished the alternatives to violence program.

"None of this makes up for the fact that Raymond took Sandy's life and forever changed the lives of his 12 children, his grandchildren, his wife, his in-laws, his other relatives and his friends," said Tulloch.

The judge acknowledged that Komak grew up in  a home where alcohol was abused and she recognized Komak's remorse and numerous apologies for his actions in this fatal incident.

"He told us that every day he thinks about what he has done. He spoke directly to Sandy's family. He said, 'I hope in time you can forgive me but if you can not do so, it is understandable,'" Tulloch recounted.

Ekpakohak's brother spoke of his deep sense of loss and love for his sibling but also expressed his hope for the future of his family as well as Komak's family.

In rendering her sentence, Tulloch said, "I cannot and must not use this court as an instrument of revenge or an instrument of appeasement. The length of any sentence I impose today is not and cannot attempt to place a value on Sandy’s life. That value is too vast to measure and nothing I do today can make up for the tragedy that has taken place."

Komak was credited with time served during pre-trial custody, leaving him with 655 days left to serve when his sentence was handed down on March 3.


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