Two people charged in relation to the death of Megan Gallagher have been sentenced for their roles in her death.
Wednesday in provincial court in Saskatoon, John Sanderson and Jessica Badger entered guilty pleas for the crime of committing an indignity to human remains. According to an agreed statement of facts, Badger gave money to Sanderson, who picked up Megan’s body in his truck, from inside a garage, before dumping it off a bridge into a river.
Before the two were sentenced a number of Megan’s family got the chance to read victim impact statements in court to the accused who were both present, with Sanderson, who is in custody sitting in the prisoners box handcuffed, while Badger, who is not in custody, sat in a chair next to the prisoners box.
Mary MacColl, Megan’s aunt and the sister of Megan’s mother Ingrid spoke about the toll Megan’s death has taken on her sister, while giving a victim impact statement on behalf of herself and her sister. Mary explained Ingrid is on long term disability from her job and has seen her overall health decline as a result of losing Megan.
“Our familie’s life was shattered,” she said.
Debbie Gallagher, Megan’s stepmother as well read a victim impact statement in court and spoke about how she came into Megan’s life when Megan was nine years old. She spoke about how Megan liked to be tucked in to bed at night and also described her as being a “trickster.” Debbie also told the two accused about how them remaining silent about where Megan was for such a long time created prolonged pain and grief for her and her family.
“All that extra trauma could have been prevented,” she said.
When the victim impact statements were being read Sanderson kept his head down, while Badger at times became emotional and wiped away tears.
Both the Crown and defense presented a joint submission to the court which called for Sanderson to be given a sentence of three years with some credit for time served on remand. With this credit Sanderson has 719 days left to serve in custody. The same submission called for Badger to be given a conditional sentence of two years less a day, which will be followed by 18 months of probation.
The court did question the disparity in the sentences of the two, the Crown responded the differing sentences were appropriate given Sanderson had a lengthy criminal record, while Badger previously had no criminal record. The Crown as well argued the difference was appropriate as it was Sanderson who transported and dumped Megan’s body while Badger did not an actively participate, but helped by giving Sanderson money for gas.
When they were offered the chance to address the court both Sanderson and Badger apologized to Megan’s family for what they had done.
Speaking to MBC Radio News after the two were sentenced, Megan’s father Brian Gallagher said having the chance to address the two was something which was important to him.
“It’s not so much us seeing them as them facing us face to face and them seeing the emotion and seeing the damage that’s been impacted on all of the people that knew Megan,” he said.
Brian said it was good to see that both expressed remorse for what they had done. In regards to the sentence, Gallagher said no sentence is going to bring Megan back to her family.
“It just is what it is (the sentence), I think the judge did a very good job of addressing all of the issues all of the challenges he had to, to come to terms with the sentence,” he said.
Sanderson and Badger’s guilty pleas now mean three people have pleaded guilty in Megan’s death. Four people are facing charges of first degree murder.
Editors Note: This story was amended on March 1 6:39 p.m. to correct an error regarding the sentence given to Jessica Badger.
(Top Photo: Brian Gallagher outside provincial court in Saskatoon Wednesday. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)