Edmonton Southgate attacker pleads guilty to manslaughter

Jordan Cushnie has pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter in the death one year ago of Iain Armstrong.

On April 17, 2018, Cushnie went to Southgate Mall, armed with wire cutters. According to an agreed statement of facts, he met up with four other men inside the mall. All his movements were captured on video surveillance.

The group made their way toward a cosmetics kiosk located just outside Bunches Flowers, a store owned by Armstrong.

Armstrong, 61, was leaving his store when Cushnie walked past him to a computer and cash box at the kiosk.

Using his wire cutters, he snipped the cable that secured the cash box, picked up the box and began to walk away.

Armstrong tried to stop him by grabbing Cushnie’s left arm.

Cushnie immediately turned and punched Armstrong in the face.

According to the court document, “Mr. Armstrong dropped the box he was carrying and attempted to defend himself with his free hand as Cushnie repeatedly and forcefully struck him in the face and head with his closed right fist.”

Police erected tarps around the scene at Southgate Mall after Iain Armstrong was assaulted during a robbery. (CBC)

Armstrong was hit and punched in the head six times, with the entire attack lasting less than 10 seconds.

After the final punch, Armstrong struck his head on the corner of a kiosk and fell to the ground.

Cushnie ran away.

Fatal injuries

Armstrong’s fall caused devastating injuries. He suffered a spinal cord injury and was unable to breathe. That led to cardiac arrest. A large cut from his forehead to the top of his head bled profusely.

Security staff and paramedics tried to help, but his injuries were severe and irreversible. After three days in hospital, he was paralyzed below the neck, unable to breathe on his own or maintain a heartbeat.

At the request of his family, Armstrong was pulled off life support and died almost immediately.

Iain Armstrong, 61, is seen in this undated photo with his wife Sharon. (Facebook/Pray for Iain Armstrong)

An autopsy determined he died of blunt force trauma and neck injuries.

An arrest warrant was issued for Cushnie the day after the attack. He was taken into custody a week later and charged with second-degree murder.

In Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Friday, Cushnie pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to robbery and breach of probation.

He showed no emotion as the agreed statement of facts was read.

Two women who appeared to have some connection to Cushnie sobbed uncontrollably in the courtroom. Afterwards, they declined comment.

Armstrong’s family did not attend court.

Justice Eldon Simpson accepted the guilty pleas and ordered a Gladue report, which will take Cushnie’s Indigenous heritage into consideration.

Cushnie remains in custody and will be sentenced in October.

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