Douglas Garland sentenced to life, no parole for 75 years
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“Douglas Garland will never receive the justice he deserves here on earth,” five-year-old Nathan O’Brien’s mother told court in an emotional victim impact statement Friday.
Justice David Gates then ruled in favour of consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for the maximum of 75 years Friday afternoon.
WATCH: Triple murderer Douglas Garland sentenced to 75 years in jail
“Mr. Garland, you have done a terrible thing,” Gates said. “The horror and terror you visited on these innocent people extends beyond the boundaries of ordinary human comprehension. The circumstances defy description.
“You have denied Alvin and Kathy Liknes of their golden years…you have robbed Nathan O’Brien of his future and stolen the promise of what he might have been.”
“You have shattered this community’s sense of peace and security.”
When asked if he wanted to say anything to court, Garland said no. Gates later noted Garland offered “no expression of regret or remorse.”
Five tearful victim impact statements were read Friday morning.
Jennifer O’Brien said she has turned to God for strength: “my faith comforts me.”
“There is and always will be a missing space in our lives,” Jennifer said.
“Sometimes I’m angry, sometimes I cry all day.”
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Nathan’s father Rod O’Brien broke down, telling court, “Today Nathan would be eight-and-a-half. It is not humanly possible to describe the loss of Nathan.”
Rod said he is constantly asked by his two surviving sons: “Why did Nathan have to go to heaven?”
“I have no answers to my sons’ questions why they will never see Nathan again.”
“Nathan more than anything wanted to be a dad…all that is now taken from him,” Rod said.
He described a message from God delivered to him just before Nathan disappeared: “Make sure your son knows you love him.”
Rod described telling Nathan twice within minutes: “I love you, I am so very proud of you. Don’t you ever forget that.”
He spoke of heaven and Nathan’s desire to know more about heaven in the months before he was taken.
Rod told him there was only “joy, happiness and love” in heaven.
“For those who choose evil, they will get an eternity of evil,” Rod said, telling Garland, “a life sentence on earth is nothing compared to what waits for you.”
WATCH: Mount Royal University criminologist Ritesh Narayan joins Global Calgary to explain the guilty verdict in the Douglas Garland triple-murder trial.
Alvin’s brother Allen Liknes spoke briefly at the hearing, crying as he simply said, “I just thank God his family turned him in.”
Two statements were read by prosecutor Vicki Faulkner. She broke down several times as she read words written by Alvin and Kathy’s son, Jeff Liknes.
“I lost everything I know and cared about overnight,” Jeff wrote.
“The home where I grew up is now replaced with blackness and grief,” he continued. He described memories of where he used to play, now covered in blood.
“This is not a life meant for anyone in the world,” he said. “I am learning to cope with the grief, but I will never truly be free unless I look past the hate.”
Watch below: Forensic psychologist Dr. Patrick Baillie provides analysis and context on the verdict in the Douglas Garland case.
Alvin’s daughter Nancy Liknes also had a statement read.
“I will not allow this to ruin our lives,” she wrote.
She described her father as a man of integrity, grace and humility: “My dad walks with me always.”
The prosecutor cried as she read Nancy Liknes’ words describing her son asking, “now that I’m five, is the same thing that happened to Nathan going to happen to me?”
Several excerpts from the victim impact statements were removed after extensive objections from defence for Garland.
Calgary police chief reacts to Garland sentencing
Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin released a statement following the sentencing, expressing pride in how officers and employees took on the case and sharing his gratitude that justice had been served.
“Investigations of this magnitude require an approach that reaches across all areas of the police service,” he wrote. “It requires time, diligence, intensity and a commitment that is all-consuming. It is this ability to work together to support one another and to persevere through the most difficult of moments, which reflects the strength of our organization.
“We know so well this is not about us; it is first and foremost about the families who have had their lives changed in ways that are unimaginable to most of us. This trial brings them no closure as they live every day with the void of a loved one, but we do hope the outcome brings them some measure of comfort.”
Watch below: The murder of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents grabbed the hearts of Canadians. Kim Smith explains how the horrific details of the trial may leave a lasting impact.
Crown Prosecutor Shane Parker had asked for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for Garland, meaning it would be 75 years before he would be eligible for parole—or 129 years old.
“These acts display a character of evil. You can’t rehabilitate evil,” Parker said.
Parker said the victims’ family members should never have to attend a parole board hearing.
“It is without reason,” Parker said. “Perhaps it is why this crime has rocked the city.”
Defence lawyers had asked the justice to give just one consecutive period of parole ineligibility to make the sentence life in prison with no chance of release for 50 years, but weren’t completely surprised by the 75-year parole ineligibility handed down.
“I think it wasn’t totally unexpected,” Kim Ross said after sentencing. “I think we anticipated this might be the result.”
Ross said he doesn’t have instructions about whether there will be an appeal or not. He said he went to speak with Garland briefly in the cells at the courthouse.
“I think he’s just trying to take it all in…digest what happened.”
The guilty verdicts mean the jury believed the Crown’s theory that Garland meticulously plotted the deaths of Alvin and Kathy, violently attacked them along with their grandson in their southwest Calgary home, then took them to his farm where he tortured, dismembered and destroyed their bodies.
The trio was last seen alive June 29, 2014.
Nathan had been at a sleepover at his grandparents’ home. When his mother went to pick him up the next day, both Nathan and her parents were gone and the Liknes home was covered in blood.
Their bodies have never been recovered, but DNA of all three was found at the Garland property.
It’s believed the murders were planned as revenge and that Garland had a petty grudge against the Likneses over a patent for a pump.
For information on the Nathan O’Brien Children’s Foundation, click here
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