(b. 1963), is a Canadian who has been found guilty of
first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated sexual
Corrine Gustavson, nicknamed "Punky",
was kidnapped on the morning of September 6, 1992. She
was found dead two days later in an Edmonton truckyard,
about nine kilometres from her home.
He automatically receives a life
sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years. He was
charged on March 14, 2003. He admitted to the crime of
rape, but not to murder, he said that he kidnapped
Corrine in a rage after he and his girlfriend got into
an argument that morning. He thought that he could get
back at her by taking the little girl and raping her.
Defence lawyer Peter Royal asked
Dowling, the medical examiner, whether Punky could have
died because of a condition where a little pressure on a
nerve in the neck for a short period of time can cause
death. Dowling said it would be unusual. Royal also
asked whether the bruising to the girl's genitals could
have been caused after she died. Dowling said what he
saw didn't indicate that, but that it was possible.
He also testified while being questioned by the Crown
that there was little blood on the girl's body or clothes and that he
believed that was because the bleeding would have stopped when she died.
The medical examiner also testified that the girl's
clothing appeared to have been hastily put on both legs were through
the same hole of her underwear, her pants were on backwards and her arms
weren't put through her jacket's armholes.
Dowling said he believes her clothes were removed and
then put back on. During the doctor's testimony, some of Punky's family
and a juror wept. The girl's uncle left the courtroom, shaking his head.
Sleigh tried to plead guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the
trial, but the Crown chose to proceed with a charge of first-degree
The 42 year old was charged with first-degree murder,
kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault in 2003.
Judge: Terrence Clackson. Lawyer for
the Defense: Peter Royal. Lawyer for the Crown: Jason
No parole for 25 years for Alberta
Friday, May 27, 2005
Clifford Sleigh has been sentenced to life in prison
with no chance of parole for 25 years in the murder, kidnapping and
sexual assault of six-year-old Corrine (Punky) Gustavson.
The judge heard victim impact statements before
sentencing the 42-year-old, who broke down and sobbed when he stood up
to apologize to the Edmonton child's family.
Five members of Corrine's family including her
sister, father and cousin read victim impact statements in court,
detailing the effect the girl's 1992 death has had on them.
Corinne's father told court he had a nervous
breakdown and split from his wife after the murder, while her mother
said she was robbed of the chance to watch her daughter grow up,
graduate and marry.
Sleigh was found guilty on
all three charges on Wednesday after eleven
jurors deliberated for about 11 hours. They were
never told that Sleigh had two previous
convictions for sexually assaulting young girls.
At the start of the trial,
Sleigh admitted to abducting and sexually
assaulting Punky. He tried to plead guilty to
manslaughter but the Crown rejected the plea.
Punky disappeared from her
north Edmonton yard on Sept. 6, 1992. Her body
was found two days later in a truck yard.
She had been sexually
assaulted and, according to the medical examiner,
Punky had been
playing in the yard with a friend when Sleigh
drove by. Court heard that Sleigh, who was angry
at his common-law wife, headed out to find a
girl he knew "to rape." Unable to find her, he
spotted Punky and grabbed her because she was
the child closest to the fence.
Sleigh was charged in 2003
with first-degree murder, kidnapping and
aggravated sexual assault, after police obtained
a DNA sample from him.
Sleigh has maintained Punky
was alive when he left her.
Police had considered him a
suspect early in the investigation, and said his
baseball cleats matched prints where Punky's
body had been found. But his then-common-law
wife and friends said he had been with them the
entire Labour Day weekend when the girl
Medical examiner details Punky's violent injuries
EDMONTON The genital injuries six-year-old Corrine "Punky" Gustavson
suffered in an attack were severe enough that they could have killed the
child, had she not been smothered, medical examiner Dr. Graeme Dowling
"This is the worst
example of this that I have seen," he testified Thursday at the first-degree
murder trial of Clifford Sleigh.
Sleigh has admitted to
taking the girl from her front yard in September 1992 while she played
with a friend, saying he chose her because she was closest to the fence.
He has also acknowledged that he sexually assaulted her, but has pleaded
not guilty to aggravated sexual assault.
Punky's body was found
two days later in a trucking yard, dressed except for her shoes.
Dowling said the child's
vagina was violently torn, and could have bled enough to cause her death,
had she lived and not been treated. He said the cause of death was
Defence lawyer Peter
Royal asked Dowling whether Punky could have died because of a condition
where a little pressure on a nerve in the neck for a short period of
time can cause death.
Dowling said it would be
Royal also asked whether
the bruising to the girl's genitals could have been caused after she
died. Dowling said what he saw didn't indicate that, but that it was
He also testified while
being questioned by the Crown that there was little blood on the girl's
body or clothes and that he believed that was because the bleeding would
have stopped when she died.
The medical examiner
also testified that the girl's clothing appeared to have been hastily
put on both legs were through the same hole of her underwear, her
pants were on backwards and her arms weren't put through her jacket's
Dowling said he believes
her clothes were removed and then put back on.
During the doctor's
testimony, some of Punky's family and a juror wept. The girl's uncle
left the courtroom, shaking his head.
Sleigh tried to plead
guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the trial, but the Crown
chose to proceed with a charge of first-degree murder.
The 42 year old was
charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated sexual
assault in 2003.
Man charged in girl's murder admits to sexual assault
EDMONTON - A man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a six-year-old
girl admitted to sexually assaulting her, court heard Monday.
The trial of Clifford Sleigh began Monday morning in
Edmonton with Sleigh offering to plead guilty to a lesser charge of
manslaughter in front of the jury.
Crown attorneys rejected the plea but did accept
Sleigh's guilty plea to a charge of kidnapping in the case of Corrine (Punky)
Gustavson disappeared from her mother's east Edmonton
yard in September 1992. Her body was found two days later, fully clothed
except for her shoes, in an industrial area.
Police said she had been smothered and sexually
No arrests were made until March 2003, when police
charged Sleigh, now 42, with first-degree murder, kidnapping and
aggravated sexual assault.
In his opening statement, Crown Jason Track told the
jury he can prove first-degree murder, which can apply if the victim was
killed in the commission of a sexual assault or kidnapping.
Track said that in an agreed statement of facts,
Sleigh admits that he sexually assaulted the girl and that his semen was
found on her underwear. He also agrees that the semen matches his DNA
profile and that there is only a one in 25 trillion chance that it is a
However, Sleigh disputes that the assault was an
aggravated sexual assault.
Track told the jury the cause of the girl's death was
"blunt force genital trauma."
Sleigh said in the agreed statement that he took the
girl from her yard as she played with a five-year-old friend, and that
he'd grabbed the child closest to the fence.
Outlining his case to
the jury, Track said Sleigh had come to Edmonton the weekend Punky
disappeared for a softball tournament, and was staying near the
Gustavson home. The jury was also told that Sleigh had taken a friend's
car for a few hours the day the girl disappeared.
Edmonton sex slaying trial begins
Monday, May 9, 2005
Edmonton A six-year-old girl whose 1992 sex slaying
horrified her hometown died simply because she was playing too close to
The admission was contained in an agreed statement of
facts on the opening day of trial for Clifford Sleigh, 42, who was not
arrested until more than a decade after Corinne Gustavson was slain.
Monday's court proceedings began with Mr. Sleigh
pleading guilty in front of the jury to kidnapping and manslaughter as
the charges of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and
kidnapping were read.
The prosecution accepted only the kidnapping plea.
The Crown does not accept the guilty plea (of
manslaughter), replied prosecutor Jason Track. We intend to proceed on
the charge of first-degree murder.
Later in court, Track referred to an agreed statement
of facts in which Mr. Sleigh described kidnapping and admitted to
sexually assaulting the little girl.
Mr. Sleigh abducted Corinne, known as Punky because
of her spiky hair, as she was playing in a backyard with another young
friend. The statement of facts quotes Mr. Sleigh admitting he chose
Gustavson only because she was the closest to the fence the two girls
were playing in front of.
In his opening statement, Mr. Track described the
case he will try to prove.
He said Mr. Sleigh came to Edmonton from Lodgepole,
Alta., as part of a family who were meeting other relatives at a
softball tournament. The residence where he was staying was near the
Gustavson home, court heard.
Court also heard that Mr. Sleigh took his host's car
without asking for several hours on Sunday, Sept.6 the day Corinne was
That morning, said Mr. Track, the mother of Corinne's
five-year-old playmate came rushing into the Gustavson house with the
news that her daughter had seen someone take Corinne.
(The father, Ray Gustavson,) ran out in his stocking
feet, said Mr. Track. He was unable to find her.
It's expected the playmate will testify at the trial.
She'll tell you one native man took Punky, Track
said. Mr. Sleigh is aboriginal.
Two days later, Corinne's body was found lying face-down
in the back lot of an Edmonton trucking company by the firm's owner.
Mr. Track described the cause of death as blunt
force genital trauma.
Although DNA profiling had been attempted during the
initial investigation, technicians could not get usable evidence.
However, by 2000, the technology had improved and police were able to
get a complete profile.
crime transfixed the city. Intense media coverage followed, including a
feature report on the American TV series Unsolved Mysteries.
Gustavson, the victim
Clifford Sleigh, the murderer