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Former Hamilton teacher Richard Taylor guilty for death of mother, stepfather

Richard Taylor was on trial for two counts of first-degree murder in the 2018 arson deaths of his mother and stepfather. The trial in Hamilton wrapped up after several weeks with a guilty verdict from a jury on June 17, 2022. Cjruther4d / Instagram

A jury has found the Hamilton-area man accused of killing his mother and stepfather by setting fire to their Dundas home almost four years ago guilty of two counts of first degree murder.

Richard Taylor, 46, was on trial for allegedly killing Carla and Alan Rutherford, who died after a blaze was deliberately set in the master bedroom of their Greening Court home at about 3:30 a.m. on July 9, 2018.

Taylor, a former teacher at Hess Street Elementary School in Hamilton, pleaded not guilty.

Read more: Closing arguments made in trial for son accused of double murder in Dundas arson

Investigators have said the fire began as a result of someone pouring a “medium petroleum distillate” around the Rutherfords’ bed and igniting it with an open flame.

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Carla, 64, was pronounced dead on the front lawn after firefighters pulled her body from the house.

Alan, 63, managed to escape the house by jumping through the bedroom window. More than 90 per cent of his body was burned and he died in hospital about 12 hours after the fire.

During the trial, the Crown alleged Taylor’s motive for the murders was financial and that he stood to gain more than $421,000 from their deaths.

The theory was he was a bad money manager and in deep financial crisis.

The Crown’s Janet Booy claimed he’d been falsifying bank records and keeping his wife Evangelia in the dark about the reality of their finances for some time.

Booy said that deception was unravelling in the time leading up to the Taylors’ planned trip to Greece in the days following the fire.

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Jennifer Penman, Taylor’s defence counsel, told the court in her submission that the financial motive “doesn’t add up” suggesting it was unreasonable “a loving, law-abiding teacher” would murder his own mother.

Taylor claimed he was sleeping in the living room in his Oakville home the night the fire was set, and not in the bedroom with his wife due to a knee injury.

Court heard that Taylor had suffered the injury on the Saturday before the fire, falling down the basement stairs at the Greening Court home and on top of his mother.

Read more: Murder trial begins for man accused of killing mother, stepfather in Dundas arson

The defendant told police in a July 10 interview that he couldn’t have done the murders because of the injury, insisting he couldn’t even walk down steps or drive anywhere.

However, surveillance video from the evening of July 8, as well as in the days immediately following the murder, showed him walking either with a limp and a cane or without any assistance whatsoever.

Booy alleged he faked the injury to create an alibi.

During sentencing, Justice Toni Skarica characterized Taylor as “monster.”

“How could anybody do something like this? It’s so shocking,” Skarica said in his address.

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First-degree murder comes with a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

 

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