Lovers shared plan to kill, court told

Accused's girlfriend described their plots, co-worker testifies

Published On Thu Nov 05 2009

Sarah Sousa burst into tears after showing up for her shift at Loblaws and being told her co-worker and confidant had been arrested for murder.

"I knew that everything we talked about was true," the 21-year-old testified Wednesday. "I was obviously upset because I knew it was going to happen."

Sousa has now told two juries that Ashleigh Pechaluk outlined several plans to kill her lesbian lover's boyfriend, Dennis Hoy, before he was bludgeoned to death with an axe early Oct. 27, 2006.

Sousa testified at Pechaluk's murder trial last spring Pechaluk, 25, was acquitted and repeated the story Wednesday for a jury hearing evidence at the first-degree murder trial of Nicola Puddicombe, 36.

"Ashleigh would be the one to physically hit him in the head and Nikki would be the one to call the cops," she told Superior Court.

Prior to that, Pechaluk described other schemes to "get rid of Dennis," including a "legal way," which was for Pechaluk to punch Puddicombe, who could then report Hoy was abusing her to police, Sousa said.

"At the end of the day, she couldn't bring herself to hit Nikki. That wasn't going to work."

Pechaluk also told her about a plan to poison Hoy, but that was also abandoned, Sousa said, adding Pechaluk always used the word "we're" when talking about the schemes, which she understood to mean both women were in on them.

Pechaluk also told her she was taking notes about Hoy's routine, Sousa testified.

"She did a lot of her homework as far as planning this poisoning." That included asking Sousa if she knew of any heart-attack inducing drugs, she testified.

Sousa said she didn't take these workplace conversations seriously.

After the morning break, Pechaluk, who had finished testifying earlier Wednesday, returned to the courtroom with her new girlfriend. When they got up to leave, Sousa stopped mid-sentence and appeared stricken.

After lunch, Crown attorney Tom Lissaman asked her if she had seen Pechaluk in court.

Sousa said yes.

"It was a bit of a shock," she said.

Sousa then told court how, about a week before 36-year-old Hoy's death, Pechaluk said the time had come to get rid of him.

Puddicombe would tell police she was in the shower when Hoy was killed as he slept in her bed. They also planned to blame a fictitious intruder who had slashed Hoy's tires on two previous occasions, Sousa said.

"That's what we talked about Oct. 20, how it was all going to go down."

Many of the details of the slaying are similar to what Sousa described, except that an axe was used instead of a bat.

Lissaman asked if prior to going to the police, Sousa knew anything about the case, from talking to people or seeing or reading media accounts. Sousa said no.

"You can't believe what you read in newspapers anyways."

The trial continues.