WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers.
The B.C. man who murdered a Belgian traveller in the Fraser Canyon in 2018 has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 23 years.
Sean McKenzie, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case in September.
Amelie Sakkalis’ body was found on Aug. 22, 2018 along Highway 1 near Boston Bar.
Investigators believe she was hitchhiking between Penticton and Vancouver when she was killed, and that she had only recently met McKenzie, who picked her up in Hedley.
On Tuesday, court heard for the first time that she was stabbed 42 times, before being dumped in the bushes near Boston Bar.
According to the evidence, McKenzie struck Sakkalis in the head with the butt of a hunting knife.
The court heard that she tried to fight back, but that an enraged McKenzie bound her wrists and ankles and violently sexually assaulted her, in an attack that lasted more than two hours.
She managed to escape at one point, but was re-captured and bound again the court heard.
Mackenzie’s lawyer said there is still no clear motive for the attack, but that his client is remorseful.
“It’s like I said in court, he’s unable to offer an explanation,” said defence counsel Troy Anderson.
“I’m sure for the public that’s a very unsatisfying answer, but that’s the best explanation we’ve been given.”
Mackenzie was offered the chance to speak to the court Tuesday, and said he couldn’t articulate the words.
The court also heard victim impact statements from Sakkalis’ family, six of whom travelled from Belgium to Canada for the sentencing.
“She had a special dream to go to Canada, your beautiful country,” Sakkalis’ mother told the court in tears.
“My entire life is in shambles,” added her sister.
Police arrested a McKenzie, an Oliver, B.C. resident, at the scene of the crime and subsequently released him. Investigators also seized a white Chevy Astro Van at the scene.
McKenzie had initially been charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
Police said McKenzie had no criminal record, and was known to travel extensively through B.C. for work.
-With files from Rumina Daya