Christopher Garnier has been found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the 2015 death of Catherine Campbell.
For Campbell’s family, it was an emotional day and the end of a long and difficult court case.
“For almost two and a half years, we’ve sought justice for Catherine and today we feel we have justice for Catherine,” said Susan Campbell, Catherine’s mother, moments after hearing the guilty verdict.
“We’re glad it’s over.”
“Hopefully, this will help towards people realizing that they can’t just commit violence against women and not pay for it,” said Amanda Wong, Catherine’s Aunt.
WATCH: The jury took only four and a half hours to find Christopher Garnier guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Catherine Campbell. Natasha Pace brings us the latest.
Jury decided Campbell’s death was not an accident, as defence suggested
Campbell, 36, was a member of the Truro Police Service and a volunteer firefighter. She was off-duty at the time of her death.
The Crown alleged Garnier, 30, struck Campbell on the head and strangled her at an apartment on McCully Street before placing her body in a green bin, wheeling it through north end Halifax and dumping it under the Macdonald Bridge.
The defence said Campbell’s death was an unfortunate accident that occurred during rough sex that she initiated.
The five-week trial heard testimony from more than 40 witnesses.
Garnier told the court last week that he met Campbell at the Halifax Alehouse on Sept. 11, 2015 and the pair went back to the McCully Street apartment together.
Once there, Garnier said Campbell asked him if he was into domination and requested that he choke and slap her. Garnier testified he had no memory of putting Campbell in a green bin or disposing of her body.
Garnier also found guilty of interfering with human remains
In addition to being found guilty of second-degree murder, the seven-woman, five-man jury also found Garnier guilty of improperly interfering with a dead body.
In total, the jury deliberated for 4.5 hours over two days.
“We’re very pleased that the jury reviewed the evidence and came to the conclusion that they did,” said Crown Attorney Christine Driscoll.
“We’re very pleased for the Campbell family, who have conducted themselves with dignity throughout this entire thing and pleased that they have justice for their daughter.”
Garnier sentenced to life in prison, defence won’t say if they will appeal
Garnier had been on trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax since November 20.
“They felt they only needed 4.5 hours in order to come to the decision they did and it’s not for me to criticize the decision,” said Defence Lawyer Joel Pink.
When the verdict was read in court, Garnier hunched over his table while his family and his girlfriend sobbed.
“He is shocked, as is his family shocked but that’s something to be expected,” said Pink.
A conviction for second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, which Justice Joshua Arnold imposed on Thursday afternoon.
Parole eligibility can range from 10 to 25 years and will be determined at a hearing, which is scheduled for May 7, 2018.
When asked by the judge for recommendations from the jury on parole eligibility, seven jurors offered no recommendations. One of the jurors recommended Garnier serve 12 years behind bars before he is eligible to apply for parole and four others recommended he serve 10 years.
The defence says it’s too early to say if they will appeal the guilty verdict.