Skip to content

Strangled cat, pattern of abuse cited by defence in B.C. murder case

Paris Laroche charged in the Nanaimo killing and dismemberment of her ex-boyfriend
Paris Laroche’s defence lawyer presented self-defence arguments at her trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday, Feb. 12. (News Bulletin file)

A Nanaimo woman accused of murdering and dismembering her ex-boyfriend did so in self-defence, her lawyer is arguing.

The trial of Paris Jayanne Laroche continued Monday, Feb. 12, with defence lawyer Glen Orris saying the killing could be considered self-defence given Laroche’s state of mind from an allegedly abusive relationship and the strangling of her cat.

Laroche, 28, who has pleaded not guilty, is on trial for first-degree murder and interference with a dead body in the case of ex-boyfriend Sidney Joseph Mantee, who was 32 when he was reported missing by Nanaimo RCMP in 2020.

The trial, presided by justice Robin Baird, is being held in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The defence called expert witness Amy Fitzgerald, professor and undergraduate chair of the department of sociology and criminology at the Great Lakes Insititute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor.

Fitzgerald suggested alleged violence against Laroche’s cat by Mantee could support the contention that Laroche killed Mantee in self-defence. The professor has studied abusive relationships including how pets become instrumental in abusive intimate relationships.

Orris said the relationship between Laroche and Mantee disintegrated into a physically and psychologically abusive one, and alleged that Laroche developed a condition called battered spouse syndrome. He said Mantee amplified his ability to carry out threats made against Laroche, her friends and family by telling her stories about past criminal and gang activities, even though, according to police evidence, he didn’t have a criminal record.

“So, if that’s the case those are all lies, but that doesn’t matter because he was believed, cleary, by Miss Laroche,” Orris said. “So, she’s not only subjected to the abuse, that the evidence clearly indicates she has, but she’s threatened by somebody she believes to be from a criminal background and quite capable of carrying out his threats.”

Orris said that about two months before the killing, Mantee and Laroche began sleeping apart, Mantee on a mattress in the living room of the apartment they shared and Laroche in in the bedroom, and Mantee allegedly became more abusive.

Alleged abuse of Laroche’s cat was the final straw that led to the murder, defence counsel said. The accused came home from work and discovered Mantee had allegedly strangled her cat and it was after that the animal began urinating throughout the apartment and hissing at its kitten.

“It’s interesting to note … that’s what she said happened to her and that on … many occasions she’d be strangled to unconsciousness,” Orris said.

He said the criminology professor’s evidence would explain the role pets play in intimate partner violence and how women in such situations have a different relationship with their pets, which become a source of calming, comfort and respite from assault and usually results in the abusive relationship lasting longer because of fear that the pets will be taken away by the abuser or harmed through the separation. In some cases the abused partner will be so “beaten down” that they will disregard the value of their own life and possible consequences of their actions to protect the animal.

“The other aspect of this … the pets will become a surrogate of the individual being abused … abusers who are abusing their partners will think of many ways to do that and, one of the ways to do that is to take something that they love and abuse them, abuse the pets, and effectively what they’re doing is abusing the person they’ve been abusing for years,” Orris said.

The trial started Jan. 22 and is scheduled to last 20 days.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo woman accused of murder, dismemberment on trial

READ ALSO: RCMP seek Nanaimo man who hasn’t contacted family in months

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
Read more