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Man who killed and dismembered Toronto woman in 2016 sentenced to life in prison
The man convicted in the death of a woman whose dismembered remains were found behind a Toronto butcher shop in 2016 has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 22 years.
Ian Ohab was found guilty of second-degree murder and indignity to a dead body in the death of Melissa Cooper in January.
Cooper, 30, went missing in April of 2016. Her torso was discovered inside a garbage bag dumped behind a butcher shop near Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street and her arms were found at a recycling plant in the city’s north end. No other remains have been found.
Prosecutors argued Ohab lured Cooper to his home, killed and dismembered her. He disposed of her body parts in an effort to cover up the act.
A judge handed Ohab a life sentence on Wednesday. He was given 22 years for second-degree murder and a five-year concurrent sentence for dismembering her body.
The Crown had asked for no chance of parole for 25 years.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar said he considered a number of factors before coming to his decision, including how Ohab treated her remains and his criminal record, which revealed previous acts of violence against women.
Surveillance video provided as evidence in court showed the pair in the elevator at Ohab’s apartment building. Lawyers argued Cooper had visited a friend there and was likely trying to score drugs in the building when she came across Ohab in the elevator.
Court heard Cooper’s phone was deactivated shortly after. She was never heard from again.
A few days after the murder, building surveillance video captured Ohab entering the lobby with a gym bag and later with a cart. Ohab admitted to the court that he dismembered Cooper and that the footage showed him on his way to dispose of her torso.
The defence maintained that there was no evidence Ohab killed Cooper.
Ohab claimed Cooper came to his place on her own accord to borrow a crack pipe and overdosed in his apartment. He told the court he injected heroin, passed out and later woke up to find Cooper lying dead on his living room floor. While under the influence of drugs, Ohab decided to dispose of her body.
Ohab told the judge that he did not want to call for help because a few months earlier, his then-girlfriend overdose and died in the same apartment, and neighbours spread rumours that he was responsible.
Members of Cooper’s family were in the Toronto courtroom on Wednesday when the sentence was handed down.
As Ohab was led away, the victim’s uncle shouted, “Every dog has its day, and yours is going to come.”
“It doesn’t solve anything,” Chris Cooper said outside the courthouse later.
“Hopefully he’ll never get out and do that to somebody again.”
When her drug use was brought up in court, the family described her as “street smart” and argued that she would have never put herself in an unsafe position.
Cooper’s close friends joined members of her family at the courthouse on Wednesday. They said the verdict does not bring them any more closure.
“I feel a sense of relief but I still don’t feel that justice has been served because we don’t know where the rest of her is, and we’ll never be at peace,” Samantha Thornton, a friend of Cooper, said.
“He still gets to breath and he gets to laugh and be with his family if he wants to have visits,” added another friend, Zoe Medland. “My friend doesn’t get that anymore.”
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Toronto's Austin Delaney