Bruce McArthur should serve consecutive sentences after pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder and not be eligible for parole for 50 years, the Crown argued at the serial killer’s sentencing hearing.
“He felt gratified by his killings … this is all relevant to his prospects of rehabilitation,” Assistant Crown Attorney Craig Harper told the court during his sentencing submission Tuesday morning.
“The prospects of rehabilitation in light of his actions are negligible.”
The Crown’s submission comes after the court heard disturbing detailed evidence of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam.
Last week, McArthur, a 67-year-old, self-employed gardener, pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. Most of the killings, which happened between 2010 and 2017, were described as being “sexual in nature” and there were many instances cited where there was evidence of ligatures being used.
Harper said the killings occurred “in the most intimate of circumstances” and when the victims were “at their most vulnerable.”
In pictures stored on McArthur’s computer devices, some of the victims could be seen staged and wearing a fur coat, a fur hat and/or a cigar in their mouths.
“He wanted to relive each murder. It spoke to his desire,” Harper noted.
“It is the broad swath of pain Mr. McArthur has inflicted that’s particularly aggravating.”
In McArthur’s bedroom, officers found a bag with duct tape, a surgical glove, rope, zip ties, a bungee cord and syringes as well as DNA belonging to multiple victims inside McArthur’s van and on the fur coat. McArthur kept items belonging to some of his victims, such as jewelry belonging to Lisowick and Navaratnam.
It was determined that McArthur dismembered his victims’ bodies at a home on Mallory Crescent in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood where he kept his gardening materials in “an effort to avoid detection.”
The remains were found in a ravine behind the home and in large planters stored on the property. A forensic expert found that McArthur moved and mixed the body parts after the remains were already decomposed and skeletonized.
The Crown argued McArthur should serve consecutive sentences, noting six of the eight murders occurred after Parliament passed a law in 2011 allowing for such sentences in cases of multiple murders.
Harper said based on the “horrific” nature of the offences, McArthur shouldn’t be eligible for a period of 50 years — up from the standard 25 years. He noted under Canadian law, the parole eligibility in first-degree murder cases is in 25-year increments.
During the proceedings, Justice John McMahon gave McArthur the opportunity to address the court if he wanted to.
“No, your honour, I’ve discussed this with my counsel,” he quietly responded.
James Miglin, McArthur’s lawyer, acknowledged to the court during his submission that the crimes are “horrific” and said McArthur will serve a life sentence. He said the issue is whether or not parole eligibility should be extended to 50 years from the current 25.
Miglin cited McArthur’s current age and the fact he would be 91 before he could apply for parole. He also asked McMahon to take into consideration that McArthur waived his right to a preliminary inquiry and pleaded guilty to all of the charges.
Before the Crown began presenting its sentencing submission, the court less than a dozen of the remaining victim impact statements from family members.
Pearo, who said she feels “emotionally paralyzed,” told the court she now has waking nightmares and suffers anxiety and nausea after Lisowick’s death.
“We (Pearo and Lisowick) were loyal in ways only family can be,” she said.
“I just want to hug him and have him hug me back.”
Gab Laurence, manager of community initiatives at St. Stephen’s Community House, told the court Esen was training in peer support to help the organization’s clients. She described Esen as being “full of compassion.”
“We loved and cared for Selim,” she said, adding she wished they could have protected him “from this horror.”
McMahon ended the proceedings by thanking everyone involved for their professionalism. He said he will deliver his sentence Friday morning.
Meanwhile, a Toronto police tribunal hearing was scheduled to be held Tuesday morning for 32 Division Det. Paul Gauthier. He was charged with neglect of duty and insubordination related to an attempted choking incident in 2016 involving McArthur, who was arrested but later released without charges being laid.
The case was put over to Feb. 26.
Gauthier’s lawyer previously told Global News the decision to release McArthur was made in consultation with Gauthier’s superior and “based on the information available at the time.”
“Det. Gauthier conducted a proper investigation and fully documented the arrest of McArthur so that the information was available to all other investigators,” Lawrence Gridin told Global News in a statement on Friday.
“McArthur’s monstrous nature was difficult to uncover because he led a life of extreme deception, not because of anything to do with the 2016 arrest. Det. Gauthier has great sympathy for the victims and the community.”