VANCOUVER – A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has sentenced Garry Handlen to life in prison in connection with the death of a 12-year-old girl more than 40 years ago.
Handlen was convicted by a jury earlier this month of the first-degree murder of Monica Jack, who disappeared while riding her bike on May 6, 1978.
A conviction of first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence of 25 years without parole, although Justice Austin Cullen noted that Handlen is eligible to apply for parole in 15 years through the so-called faint-hope clause because he killed the girl before the law was eliminated.
Globalnews.ca coverage of the Monica Jack murder trial
Jack’s cousin Debbie John told the sentencing hearing that she has carried enormous guilt about Jack’s murder because she was the one to suggest they ride their bicycles into Merritt, B.C., the day Jack disappeared.
John says people in the Interior community searched rivers and mountains for any sign of the happy girl and continued to hope she would be found.
Handlen’s trial heard he grabbed Jack from a highway pullout, tossed her bike in a lake and then dumped her body on a hillside where some of her remains were found 17 years later.
Following the sentencing, a second murder charge against Handlen was dismissed.
In 2014, Handlen was charged with the murder of 11-year-old Kathryn-Mary Herbert, who went missing in 1975. Her body was found several months later.
Handlen’s alleged confession in the Herbert case was ruled inadmissible. As a result, Crown did not proceed and the first-degree murder charge in the Herbert case has now been dismissed.
— With files from Rumina Daya
© 2019 The Canadian Press