Crown wants McArthur to be ineligible for parole for 50 years
Warning: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing for readers.
Crown prosecutors in the Bruce McArthur case are asking that the serial killer not be eligible for parole for 50 years, noting that McArthur showed no signs of remorse as he engaged in acts of “sustained cruelty” during and after the murders of his eight victims.
In the Crown’s submissions to the court during a sentencing hearing for McArthur on Tuesday, assistant Crown attorney Craig Harper said McArthur’s conduct after brutally murdering his victims showed that he was “relishing in the gratification” of his crimes.
“Death was only just the beginning of the indignities imposed on these eight men. Each murder was accompanied by further degradation,” Harper said.
“He memorialized his crimes. He took photos of most of his victims, posing them naked, often in a fur coat or fur hat, and sometimes with the ligatures still around their necks or a cigar in their mouths.”
The photos were stored on his electronic devices so McArthur could access them “as frequently as he wanted to relive his crimes,” Harper said, adding that McArthur looked at the photos “long after the killings.”
McArthur kept personal items belonging to his victims, including jewelry and hair. He also held on to the fur coat and hat seen in the disturbing photos found by police. The pipe he used to strangle his victims was also found in his possession following his arrest.
McArthur created his own ‘macabre cemetery,’ Crown says
In his submissions Tuesday, Harper said that McArthur chose not only to dispose of the bodies of his victims, but to dismember them as well.
He noted that McArthur “compounded the degradation” by putting his victims in planters and moving them around, preventing them from having a final “resting place.”
“He, in essence, created his own macabre cemetery of his victims, victims he often visited several times a day as if he could not let them go,” Harper said.
“Everything Mr. McArthur did after the murders points not to shame or remorse but relishing in gratification, wanting to relive each murder.”
The murders were also committed in the “most intimate of situations,” Harper said, when the victims were most vulnerable.
The assistant Crown prosecutor said many of the murdered men had long-standing relationships with McArthur, who was a person that they trusted.
The serial killer’s attempts to conceal his crimes should also be a factor in his sentencing, Harper argued.
McArthur ditched his 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan only a few months after killing Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman in an attempt to avoid detection, Harper added.
McArthur inflicted ‘broad swath’ of pain
The harm that McArthur caused to the LGBTQ community and the many friends and family members of his victims can also not be overlooked when determining his sentence, Harper said.
“I appreciate that every murder exacts a grievous toll on friends and family but it is the broad swath of pain that Mr. McArthur has inflicted that is particularly aggravating,” Harper told the court Tuesday.
“The circumstances of the murder further aggravated the fear that had been sewn in the LGBT community. The murders undermined an already tenuous sense of security that community feels. It has forced them to compromise how they live their lives.”
He acknowledged that McArthur’s decision to plead guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder was a mitigating factor.
A lengthy and horrific trial was avoided for the family and friends of the victims.
Friends, family of victims address the court
During the sentencing hearing on Monday and Tuesday, the court heard from several people impacted by the murders, including the loved ones of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, who were all murdered by McArthur between 2010 and 2017.
The friends and family members expressed feelings of profound sadness, anger, unrelenting fear, and guilt.
In a victim impact statement submitted to the court, Jean-Guy Cloutier, a close friend of Navaratnam, said that during the eight years his friend was missing, he would constantly look for him on the streets and on the subway, desperately hoping that Navaratnam was still alive.
“When a person goes missing it brings up another level of anxiety and a loss that is hard to describe. Having someone that I loved dearly killed is another level of loss,” he said.
“It puts your spirit and faith into question. How can this happen? Could I have done anything else to make sure he would be safe?”
Lisowick’s daughter expressed sadness over the fact that she will never have a chance to get to know her father.
“I may not have known my father Dean Lisowick because of the decisions he has made in the past. This doesn’t mean when I was little and through my whole life until now that I didn’t wonder what it would have been like to have him in my life and know where he was,” she wrote in a victim impact statement submitted to the court.
“Even though I never knew him there was still a chance that maybe one day I would be able to meet him, bump into him downtown and talk to him but now that is all gone.”
Those who spoke on behalf of the victims also shared memories of the lives that were cut short by the 67-year-old former landscaper.
In her statement, Meaghan Jeannine Marian, who lived in the same building as Kinsman, described how her relationship with her neighbour eventually blossomed into a friendship.
“The empty small talk of co-residents evolved into summits between comrades. We would bump into each other in the stairwell of our home and somehow launch into evening-long debates on our shared passion; health justice. Eventually the conversations became personal and we became friends,” she said.
“He left snacks at my door when I was working late to submit my dissertation. He made me soups when a broken heart stole my appetite for months. As I studied intensively for medical school entrance exams, he fed me a steady diet of banana bread.”
Gab Laurence, who delivered a victim impact statement to the court on behalf of the St. Stephen Community House, described Selim Esen as a “fantastic peer worker” who was “full of compassion,” “wisdom,” and had a “sincere desire to help others.”
“Who knows what drove Bruce McArthur to do what he did… what he stole from Selim was his future, his hopes, dreams and opportunities to thrive. And he took Selim from us, his family, friends, and colleagues. But what he did not and could not take was Selim’s dignity, bravery, and resilience,” Laurence said.
“The ongoing social exclusion of vulnerable groups exacerbates distrust, provokes suspicion, and features any sense of belonging within communities who frequently struggle with connection. The absences of connection, safety and security generates a breeding ground for predators.”
Safety a major concern in LGBTQ community
The impact on the LGBTQ community was thoroughly outlined in a number of statements submitted to the court during McArthur’s sentencing hearing.
Haran Vijayanathan, the executive director for the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, said the Church-Wellesley Village was once a place where people felt they could discover and be their “true selves.”
“Things changed in 2012. When the first three men went missing, a large scare came over the community. Many did not want to go out. Many did not want to go on dates. They feared they may be next. Their safe space was no longer what they thought it was,” Vijayanathan wrote.
Rev. Deana Dudley told the court that she knew the news of McArthur’s arrest would have a “deep and lasting” impact on the LGBTQ community.
“Many in our community have lost their sense of safety… There is a sense of ‘it could have been me, it could have been any of us,’” Dudley said.
“We are angry and that will persist for a long time and I just pray that we will not let the anger eat us alive.”
The Crown is asking that McArthur be sentenced to life without the chance of parole for 50 years. This would mean McArthur would not be eligible for parole until the age of 116.
“Time to time, a crime in our criminal justice system is so deplorable, so devoid of mercy, so cold-blooded, denunciation, retribution, and giving a sense of justice to the many victims in the community at large become the paramount and virtually singular consideration,” Harper said Tuesday.
But McArthur’s lawyer James Miglin argued that extending the parole eligibility beyond the 25 years typically associated with a life sentence would be “unduly harsh.”
He noted that McArthur’s release on parole after 25 years is “highly unlikely.”
He said McArthur contributed to the quick resolution of the case by waiving his right to a preliminary inquiry and pleading guilty, actions that Miglin said should be treated as mitigating factors.
McArthur, who was given the opportunity to address the court on Tuesday, said only a few words, declining comment when asked by the judge if he had anything to say.
“No your Honour, I’ve discussed this with my counsel…,” he said in a soft voice that was almost inaudible.
Justice John McMahon is expected to release his decision on sentencing on Friday morning.