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Accused in hockey mom murder stays in custody

SURREY, B.C. - A man charged with murder in the death of a 53-year-old hockey mom from the Vancouver area was ordered to remain in custody Monday after his first court appearance.

Yosef Gopaul, 27, made a brief appearance in handcuffs and a judge agreed to keep him in custody until his next court date, scheduled for June 13.

Gopaul is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Julie Paskall, who died last New Year's Eve, days after she was beaten outside a community hockey arena in Surrey, southeast of Vancouver.

Paskall had been at the arena to pick up her 16-year-old son, a referee who was officiating a minor hockey game, when she was attacked in what police have described as a botched robbery attempt. Paskall had three children.

The region's RCMP-led homicide unit announced the arrest last Friday and confirmed Gopaul's identity the following day. Police have said Gopaul arrived from Ontario eight weeks before Paskall's death.

The RCMP said Gopaul has a criminal record from Ontario. In January 2010, he was charged with aggravated sexual assault.

A report in the Brampton Guardian newspaper said a 29-year-old woman was attacked while walking at about 2:30 a.m. on Jan 1, 2010. At the time, police said the woman was pushed to the ground and dragged toward a nearby creek before a passerby scared off the attacker, the newspaper said.

The report added that investigators determined the victim had been in contact with the suspect earlier that night at a local establishment. RCMP confirmed Gopaul was the same man who now faces charges in Paskall's death. They confirm he was convicted in the Brampton case.

Paskall's murder — which happened in Newton, an area of Surrey with a particularly rough reputation — prompted calls for more to be done to reduce violent crime in the city and keep the streets safe.

Even before Paskall's death, the city had formed a task force to investigate Surrey's homicide rate. The community had a record 25 homicides in 2013, including Paskall's death, compared with 11 the previous year.

The task force released a report in February that recommended additional police officers and increased street patrols in "high-risk" locations, such as areas known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity.

(CKNW)

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