‘I will never see my son again:’ Tanner Sinclair’s family speaks in court

The family of Tanner Sinclair read out victim impact statements in Yukon Supreme Court Feb. 21.

The family of Tanner Sinclair read out victim impact statements in Yukon Supreme Court Feb. 21.

Michael MacPherson pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to manslaughter in the death of Tanner Sinclair.

MacPherson stabbed Sinclair five times at a social gathering in July 2014 over a disagreement about a truck Sinclair had sold him.

Sinclair was fatally injured and died later in hospital. He was 27 years old.

The sentencing hearing continues today.

Crown prosecutors are seeking a sentence of eight to 10 years.

Wendy Sinclair, Tanner’s mother

Wendy Sinclair fought through tears to read her statement.

There is not enough paper in the world to express how she feels about the loss of her son, she said.

She told the court about the day Tanner was born and the day she brought him home.

She spoke about raising him to be prepared for the world, and teaching him to be kind and honest. But she didn’t think she would have to prepare him for what ultimately happened.

Wendy lives in Alberta, so she would regularly call her son. Every summer Tanner would go hunting for months at a time and before he left he would always give his mother “the biggest hug.”

“I cry every night…. I will never see my son again,” she said.

She told court about the day she got the phone call about her son.

“My heart shattered when I heard the next words,” she said. “He is dead.”

Now every day is a struggle, she said, before turning to MacPherson.

“Tell me, Michael, how do I get over it?” she asked.

Whitney Sandulak, Tanner’s wife

Whitney Sandulak told the court about struggling with the loss of her husband and having to raise two little girls by herself.

Keele was two and a half years old when Tanner was killed. Bennett was born about two months after her dad’s death and never got to meet him.

“These little girls … not only am I their mom, I’m their dad,” Whitney said.

“Those girls are my rock,” she said. “They give me life.”

Whitney spoke in a clear and calm voice, occasionally addressing MacPherson himself.

“Can you answer my daughter why you stabbed her daddy?” she asked him.

Keele’s face would light up when she heard Tanner’s truck pulling into the driveway, Whitney said.

She remembered when the RCMP drove Tanner’s truck back to the family home. Her daughter said “Daddy’s home!” and Whitney said she had to tell the little girl that her dad was dead.

Whitney made it clear she wasn’t there to seek revenge. She expressed sympathy over MacPherson’s own loss of a loved one.

“You lost your brother, MacPherson. I’m sorry for your loss,” she said. “(But) I don’t understand your senseless act of violence.”

That doesn’t excuse what he ultimately did, she said.

“You’re a weak coward who took the life of an innocent man,” Whitney said.

Lindsay Sinclair, Tanner’s sister

Lindsay remembered receiving a phone call in July 2014. She was told to pack her stuff and the Calgary Police drove her to the airport. The next 72 hours were a blur, she said.

She took four months off from work, going back and worth between Calgary and Whitehorse, helping the family to cope with the loss.

But she when she tried returning to work, she got anxiety attacks when dealing with clients. Her manager told her to get over it, that a lot of people lose loved ones.

“That’s not true. Not everybody loses a brother to murder,” Lindsay told the court.

Had MacPherson not killed her brother, today she would have been a personal banker. But now she’s struggling to pay the bills. She said she has trouble trusting people and letting them into her life for fear of losing them.

Lindsay also filed a copy of the Wild Sheep Foundation’s GCF Dalziel Outstanding Guide Award that was awarded to Tanner posthumously in 2015.

Tanner was an avid outdoorsman and a talented hunting guide.

Maggie Sandulak, Whitney’s mother

When reading her statement, Maggie said she wasn’t speaking out of hate or anger.

She wanted MacPherson to know how his crime impacted her life.

“The pain we feel is unbearable,” Maggie said. “Love is the bond that got us through this.”

She told the court about a heartbreaking moment after Tanner’s death, when her granddaughter Keele told her she wanted to die.

“If I die, I’ll go to heaven and be able to see my Daddy,” the little girl said.

Ashtyn Sandulak, Whitney’s niece

“I stand her to defend an amazing man,” Ashtyn said.

She recalled the night Tanner was killed, the sound of the sirens going by her house. She recalled the doctor at Whitehorse General Hospital telling the family that there wasn’t anything he could do for Tanner.

“I understand you lost your brother. I’m sorry,” she said, addressing MacPherson.

“Why would you take one from us?”

Brent Sinclair, Tanner’s father

Brent Sinclair told the court about the last time he saw his son. They were outside the Whitehorse airport. “I love you dad,” Tanner said.

He remembered playing with his granddaughter in Alberta when out of nowhere she asked him: “Why did this man kill my Daddy?”

As tears ran down his face, her granddaughter tried to reassure him her father was in heaven.

Now Keele and Bennett won’t have a dad to teach them to fish, to watch them grow up, to walk them down the aisle the day of their marriage, he said.

Brent also took at aim at the justice system.

“The legal system is pathetic,” he said. “It let me down and cares little about the victims.”

As he finished reading his statement, Brent turned to the man who killed his son.

“You’re a burden to society, Macpherson.”

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com