Criminal Law

Sentence for McArthur means he'll never be freed: Goldlist


TORONTO — Toronto's police chief says the sentence handed down Friday to serial killer Bruce McArthur means the man will never see daylight again.

A judge gave the 67-year-old a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, which means McArthur will be 91 when he can apply for any form of release.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said it was highly unlikely McArthur would be granted parole at any time.

``I do not see him in a public setting again,'' he said. ``In this case life will mean life at the end.''

McArthur pleaded guilty last week to murdering eight men from Toronto's gay village.

Parole eligibility was the only question for Justice John McMahon to settle as first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence. The judge said McArthur's age and guilty plea were factors in his decision.

``The accused has saved the family, friends and community at large from enduring a graphic public trial that would have been a nightmare for everyone,'' he said. ``The law is clear: a guilty plea is a mitigating factor. The second factor is the age of accused when he could apply for parole.''

Toronto criminal lawyer Jordana Goldlist tells that she was shocked initially when she heard the sentence, but that it made McArthur's decision to plead guilty make sense.

"I think that this was worked out in advance, and that McArthur was told he would likely receive the minimum sentence if he plead guilty instead of going for trial," says Goldlist, principal of JHG Criminal Law. "While sentence is never guaranteed in advance, and always within the judge's discretion, the Crown's shorter sentence request (50- instead of 200-year parole eligibility), and the judge's decision to give the minimum, suggests to me that these were the incentives McArthur was given in exchange for the plea."

The judge said he had no doubt McArthur would have continued to kill if he wasn't arrested by police last year.

``Bruce McArthur is a sexual predator and killer who lured his victims and ended up killing them for his own warped and sick gratification,'' McMahon said. ``There has been no evidence I can see of remorse.''

McArthur's victims were Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

Court heard that many of the victims were immigrants and of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent. Some lived parts of their life in secret because of their sexual orientation. All of them had ties to the city's LGBTQ community.

``This is a crime of stark horror,'' prosecutor Michael Cantlon said in a statement after the sentencing. ``Although there can be no closure from a crime of this magnitude, we hope that these eight convictions for first degree murder will assist our community in beginning a new chapter of healing.''

McArthur sexually assaulted and forcibly confined many of his victims before murdering them, court heard.

He killed most of the men in his bedroom, where he bound and then strangled them with rope, the court was told.

He then posed their bodies for photographs, with many of the images featuring the same fur coat. Court heard he kept those images in folders on his computer labelled for each of his victims, accessing some of those photographs long after the killings.

McArthur dismembered all of his victims and buried most of their remains in large planter pots at a home in midtown Toronto where he stored his landscaping equipment. One man's remains were found in a garbage bin buried in a nearby ravine.

Goldlist tells she agrees that it is unlikely McArthur will ever be freed.

"Age definitely factored in," she says. "McArthur will be 91 before eligible for parole, and quite frankly, he will probably never be paroled."

When he was arrested in January 2018, court heard that officers found a man tied to McArthur's bed. Police later uncovered a folder on McArthur's computer labelled with the man's name that contained images of him.

At a two-day sentencing hearing, loved ones of McArthur's victims spoke about the devastation, anger and struggles they experienced as a result of his crimes.

Many said they had long grappled with the disappearance of a son, father, brother or friend only to learn last year that their loved one had been killed.

- with files from

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