Man sentenced to 10 years in death of BC woman, remembered by her community as ‘bubbly, sweet’ mother

A man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the death of a New Westminster, BC, mother whose body was found in a city park a little more than a year ago.

Carlo Tobias, 22, pleaded guilty in BC Supreme Court Tuesday to manslaughter and accessory after the fact. He had initially been charged with first-degree murder and indignity to a human body, but those charges will be stayed as part of the plea deal.

The defense and Crown counsel submitted a joint recommendation of a 10-year sentence, minus 18 months for time served, which Judge Peter La Prairie of the BC provincial court agreed to. This means Tobias has a little over eight years left behind bars.

Maria Cecilia Loreto, 49, was found dead in Greentree Village Park in Burnaby, BC, on March 18, 2021. Someone had called to report a small grass fire but crews arrived and discovered a body on fire, just meters from a children’s playground.

An agreed statement of facts read in court by Crown counsel Jay Fogel said Loreto was killed at her home the previous night.

Tobias punched her in the face at her home, rendering her unconscious, but he did not take part in stabbing Loreto afterwards.

“These stab wounds caused Ma Loreto’s death,” Fogel told the court. “Mr. Tobias did not participate in the stabbing. His involvement in the killing was limited to this punch.”

A 15-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in connection with Loreto’s death. They cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the court case against them is still ongoing.

On Tuesday, Fogel read a victim impact statement from Loreto’s sister that said some activities like playing music no longer makes her happy as they remind her of her sibling.

“This loneliness has crushed my heart,” she said in the statement.

A memorial is pictured where the body of Ma Cecilia Loreto was found in Greentree Village park in Burnaby, British Columbia on Friday, March 26, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Tobias did not address the court but his lawyer, Matthew Nathanson, conveyed his client’s remorse and apologies to Loreto’s family.

Nathanson said his client turned himself in and his plea saved the court from a lengthy trial that would have subjected Loreto’s family to more trauma.

“He accepts full responsibility of his actions,” Nathanson said.

“Not only did he turn himself in to the police — he gave a full confession.”

A memorial for Ma Cecilia Loreto at the spot where her body was found in Greentree Village Park in Burnaby, BC, on March 26, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Friends said Loreto also went by the name Mycel — a contraction of her first two names, Maria and Cecilia. She was known as a mother who loved to sing and dance in the community, often performing at local events.

“She was such a bubbly, sweet young lady,” Salve Dayao, a longtime friend, told CBC last year. “I never heard her say anything nasty about anybody.”

Loreto first lived in New Westminster after arriving in BC around 2011. She then moved to Vancouver, but returned to the Royal City to live with her youngest daughter.

Over the years, she worked three jobs until she could save enough money to bring her family — her husband and a son and daughter — to Canada to join her around 2018 or 2019.

“It’s the most horrible thing to happen to her. She worked hard to bring [her] children here. She is a very beautiful person. She can’t be written off. She will be remembered,” said Dayao.

Mycel Loreto performs in New Westminster. (Christian Cunanan/Submitted by Salve Dayao)

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