A B.C. man who pled guilty to four counts of murder this week for a mass shooting in the Okanagan last year will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
In Kelowna court on Thursday, John Brittain was sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Brittain, 69, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder following the quadruple homicide in Penticton on April 15, 2019.
He pled guilty to all counts on Wednesday. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
The four victims — Rudi Winter, Barry and Susan Wonch, and Darlene Knippelberg — were all neighbours of Brittain’s former wife, Katherine Brittain.
During sentencing, Brittain apologized to the families of the victims and those impacted by his actions.
To the families of the murder victims, he said he was sorry for the devastation he caused – and that he has no understanding of what made him lose all restraint.
Brittain broke down as he said Rudi Winter, Barry and Sue Wonch and Darlene Knippelberg deserved to live out their natural lives – to pass away surrounded by family and friends.
He also apologized to his former wife Kathy, who was said to be in ongoing neighbourhood disputes with the victims at the time of the killings.
Brittain says she had nothing to do with the killings.
Court heard that Brittain snapped.
He told the court that the basis of the catastrophe was laid over the last 20 years – four successive workplace burnouts and depression led to his deteriorating mental health – and then this mental breakdown.
Brittain says he reacted to threats and images that were not real.
By pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder, Brittain faces an automatic life sentence.
The Crown called for Brittain to be given no chance of parole for 40 years, saying these killings were cold, calculated and methodical – carried out execution-style.
The defence argued for the minimum parole ineligibility of 25 years, saying that Brittain is already 69 years old, and that he was a good citizen until he went badly off the rails in an hour of madness.
The defence also said Brittain’s remorse should be taken into account.
The judge noted that these were horrific crimes – the victims killed with a high-power rifle at close range, and all over relatively petty neighbourhood grievances.
Ultimately, though, the judge agreed with the defence, sentencing Brittain to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.