WARNING: This story contains violent, graphic content. Discretion is advised.
Convicted triple-murderer Derek Saretzky will be 97 when he is eligible for parole after being sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.
Justice William Tilleman said “I am satisfied he is dangerous” in handing down the consecutive parole ineligibilities.
Watch: Derek Saretzky’s defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton reacts to the verdict handed down for the convicted triple-murderer, and whether there could be an appeal.
Saretzky was convicted June 28 of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette, 27, and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass. They also found him guilty of causing an indignity to Hailey’s body.
It took jurors just three hours to reach the verdicts in the Sept. 2015 case.
Seven victim impact statements were read at the first part of the sentencing hearing on June 29.
Watch: Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou reacts to the sentence handed down to convicted triple-murderer Derek Saretzky.
Tilleman went through the graphic details of the case and there were tears in the courtroom as he spoke about the impact of Saretzky’s crimes.
“The entire area of the Crowsnest Pass was on edge,” Tilleman said of the case. “It chilled us all.”
He noted Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, has been “consumed by sadness and heartbreak.”
Watch below: Victim impact statements read at Derek Saretzky’s sentencing hearing
Many of the victims’ family members expressed sympathy towards Saretzkys parents and Tilleman commended their compassion.
Saretzky was also sentenced to five years in prison–to be served concurrently– for causing an indignity to Hailey’s body. Tilleman noted the fact he dismembered and cannibalized the girl was “a selfish and disturbing act.”
“No one decision could possibly undo the hurt Saretzky has caused,” Tilleman said.
He added the chapter is now closed, Saretzky will never be free.
Saretzky showed no emotion as he was sentenced.
His lawyer said it will be up to Saretzky to decide if he wants to appeal.
“He’s processing it right now. He didn’t have a great deal to say about it. He does have some reflection to deal with over the next few days,” Patrick Edgerton said.
Edgerton noted the case is long and complex, and there could be areas to look at, but added “it’s all based on Mr. Saretzky’s instruction and whether or not he wants to carry on in that manner.”
The lawyer also said he predicts one day soon someone will challenge the law when it comes to the consecutive parole ineligibilities in sentencing.
“I think there likely will be one coming at some point. I can’t comment specifically about this case but eventually I think the constitutionality will be challenged,” he said.
Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou said she hopes the community can now begin to heal and put themselves back together again.
“What option do we have other than to move forward? This community came together to address a horrendous act, and they did so with dignity and equanimity, and I think to me it has restored my faith in both justice and the community in how they dealt with probably one of the worst cases the province has ever seen,” she said.
Members of the Blanchette family declined to speak to the media Wednesday, but said they felt the sentence handed down was the best possible outcome.
Watch below from June 28: Derek Saretzky found guilty of killing Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, father and senior. Nancy Hixt reports.
Crown prosecutor Michael Fox said the brutal nature of each of the killings should be considered “aggravating.” He called the murder of Meketech “practice” for the other two.
Watch below from June 15: Derek Saretzky video confession played at triple-murder trial
“There is no possible explanation for this,” Fox said, suggesting Saretzky wanted to improve his own health by cannibalizing, calling the victims in this case “mere pawns of Saretzky’s thrill-seeking.”
The Crown also pointed out Saretzky smiled through much of the trial, suggesting that is evidence of a lack of remorse.
Edgerton told Tilleman in a written submission, that the total parole ineligibility should be 25 years.
“If Mr. Saretzky’s parole ineligibility period were to be 50 years, he would have a sliver of hope that one day, at some point past the age of 74, he could be granted parole,” Edgerton said.
“Sentencing Mr. Saretzky to a parole ineligibility period of 75 years will make him a forgotten man,” Edgerton wrote.
Tilleman agreed to allow defence to make the written submissions in mid-July followed by a response from the Crown.
BELOW: Follow along with Global Calgary’s Nancy Hixt as she live Tweets Wednesday’s court proceedings from Lethbridge