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The business of forgiveness

Ten years after Squamish lawyer Bob McIntosh was kicked to death his widow and his killer are speaking tour commodities.

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By Vivian Moreau

The photograph of Bob McIntosh lying dead on a hospital bed is a showstopper. The teenagers that had been giggling over Bob’s baby photos and laughing over his class clown adult antics are silenced. Standing at the front of the high school gymnasium, Katy Hutchinson, Bob’s widow, lets the moment linger.

“That was Bob a week later,” she says, a comment on the difference between previous Christmas scenes of Bob with their four-year-old twins Sam and Emma and the photo of Bob after he’d been kicked to death at a neighbourhood party on New Year’s Eve 1997.

It’s a powerful, solitary moment for Katy, and for Bob’s killer sitting nearby but soon to join Katy on stage. In a CBC documentary being aired tonight Ryan Aldridge says he can’t look at the photo, that he hasn’t forgiven himself for kicking Bob four times in the head after being cold-cocked by a fellow partier at an out-of-control Squamish house party. And even though some think it courageous that McIntosh’s widow has forgiven him, to others Aldridge’s actions remain unforgivable.

                                                                

It’s a complicated story, one that almost everyone in the Sea to Sky region has heard. A handsome, gregarious Squamish lawyer, a popular triathlete, husband and father of twins, steps out on New Year’s Eve to check on an unsupervised nearby house party. He gets knocked down by one of the 200 kids at the party and dies after being repeatedly kicked in the head by another. In ensuing months teenagers who’d been at the party close ranks, refusing to point fingers, casting a pall over the town. The beautiful widow quickly moves to Victoria and just as quickly marries her lawyer. After five years the murderer is flushed out and put in jail but the beautiful widow, who has started speaking publicly to teens about the dangers of drinking and colluding with bullies, forgives the remorseful killer and invites him to join her on paid speaking tours.

“I thought ‘Oh, that would make an interesting scene to film,’” said producer Sue Ridout in an interview. With writer and director Helen Slinger they followed Hutchinson and Aldridge, now on parole after serving two years for manslaughter, for almost two years, producing what Ridout calls an intimate psychological portrait of the duo’s relationship.

“We wanted to do something that wasn’t simple, that wasn’t a pretty little story of a pretty widow who forgives a guy and Bob’s your uncle, that’s it,” Ridout said, wincing at the ironic slip.

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