The man responsible for a brutal fatal attack on a flower shop owner at Edmonton’s Southgate Centre mall in 2018 has been sentenced to six years behind bars.
Jordan Martin Cushnie received his sentence Monday afternoon. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery in May 2019, in connection with the April 2018 death of John Iain Armstrong. The 61-year-old co-owned the Bunches Flower Co. shop in the mall, along with other locations in the city.
Cushnie was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of Armstrong, who started the Bunches Flower Co. in 1991 with his wife, Sharon, his brother Eric and sister-in-law Judy Armstrong.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Cushnie’s movements in the mall were captured on video surveillance from the time he entered the building until he left.
Cushnie arrived at the mall at 9:44 a.m. on April 17, 2018, and met up with a number of other people before they made their way to an area near the Adore Cosmetic Kiosk, court heard last year.
Just after 10:15 a.m., Cushnie was captured on video cutting the wire that tied down the cash box at the cosmetics kiosk. He then began to flee the area when Armstrong grabbed Cushnie’s arm in an attempt to stop him.
Cushnie then turned around and repeatedly punched Armstrong in the face and head, court heard. After the sixth punch, Armstrong hit his head on the corner on the Freedom Mobile Kiosk and fell to the ground. Cushnie then ran out of the mall at around 10:18 a.m.
The assault lasted eight seconds, according to the court document.
Armstrong was in cardiac arrest and not breathing. He suffered a large cut from his forehead to the top of his head, as well as a spinal cord injury. Mall security performed CPR on Armstrong before EMTs arrived and took him to the University of Alberta Hospital.
Court heard Armstrong suffered an unsurvivable fracture to his cervical spine, among other injuries. He died in hospital three days after the attack.
The medical examiner determined Armstrong died as a result of blunt force trauma and neck injuries.
Court heard from grieving family members and friends on Monday. Eight family members and friends provided victim impact statements to the court and spoke about losing their beloved husband, father, brother and friend.
Armstrong’s wife, Sharon Armstrong, said that the morning of April 17, 2018, was a normal one, with her husband heading off to work at their family-owned business.
“In a few hours, my world would collapse,” she said, explaining she received the phone call from a shop employee and immediately called her husband’s brother and business partner, Eric Armstrong, who was nearby.
When she arrived at the mall, she said she saw the building surrounded by emergency vehicles.
“I felt my heart drop,” she said.
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, adding that doctors started using words like “dire, catastrophic” to describe her husband’s injuries.
The family decided to take Iain Armstrong off life support three days later.
Armstrong’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. Every part of my body was in pain,” she said.
Mikulasik said her family has a tradition where 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.
Her brother, 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.
He said his father was a titan among men, a model 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.
Sharon Armstrong said she will live with her husband’s death for the rest of her life.
“My spirit is broken,” she said. “The day Iain died, my life died.”
She said strong bonds have kept his family 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.
She said it has also led to financial losses for the business.
Armstrong said she wonders if she will ever feel joy again.
“So far, I have served 856 days of my life sentence of sorrow and of loss,” she said.
Both the Crown and the defence recommended a sentence of six years in prison for Cushnie, which Justice Eldon Simpson accepted.
With credit for time served, Cushnie has two and a half years left on his sentence.
With files from The Canadian Press.
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