Pickton gets life, no chance of parole for 25 years

Updated Tue. Dec. 11 2007 9:51 PM ET News Staff

Justice James Williams has sentenced serial killer Robert Pickton to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The maximum prison term for second-degree murder is 25 years, and what Pickton would have received had he been convicted of first-degree murder.

"The women who were murdered, each of them were members of our community," said Williams.

"They were women who had troubled lives. Each of them found themselves in positions of extreme vulnerability ...

"Mr. Pickton's conduct was murderous and repeatedly so. I cannot know the details of what happened. I do know this: Each of these women were murdered and their remains were dismembered. What happened to them was senseless and despicable."

Crown lawyer Mike Petrie told the New Westminster, B.C. court on Tuesday that the victims continue to be mourned by their families and friends.

He called on Justice James Williams to impose the maximum sentence of life without parole eligibility for at least 25 years.

Robert Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, had asked that his client be given parole eligibility in 15 to 20 years, because the former pig farmer had no previous criminal history of violence.

Ritchie also said defence witnesses had testified that Pickton tried to help people addicted to drugs.

On Sunday, a seven-man, five-woman B.C. Supreme Court jury convicted Pickton, 58, from Port Coquitlam, B.C., on six counts of second-degree murder.

His victims are Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe and Georgina Papin. All were from the troubled Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Cynthia Cardinal, Papin's sister, cried out with joy when Williams read the sentence late Tuesday. Outside the courthouse, she said justice had finally been served.

"I feel like Georgina is carrying me right now, I feel so light," she told CTV British Columbia. "I'm glad she got her justice and I'm so happy.

"I think Judge Williams did a remarkable job. He dealt with such a grim case."

Before Williams sentenced Pickton, Petrie read out excerpts from victim-impact statements prepared by family members of the victims.

"Explaining how I feel about my sister ... consumes my thoughts every day of my life," wrote Jay Draayers about his foster sister Abotsway.

Her head, hands and feet were found on Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm.

"'I'll never know what she endured in dying. Nobody should meet death the way she did'," Petrie told the court, reading from Draayer's statement.

In another statement quoted by Petrie, Antoinette Zanda, who looked after Wilson when she was a child, spoke about searching for her on the streets of Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside after Wilson had been reported missing.

"Having someone you care for cut up in pieces is difficult to deal with," Zanda wrote.

Karin Joesbury, mother of Andrea Joesbury, wrote that she has lived a hellish life since her daughter's death.

"I have had times where I felt suicidal. All the stress and isolation has really taken a toll on me. Tension and stress worrying about my other children fills my days," she wrote.

"I have felt constantly bombarded by so many things it doesn't feel like I can properly grieve, I don't feel safe anywhere. I feel that I am living in a fishbowl, even turning on the TV or looking at the newspapers is incredibly disturbing. The images that I constantly see takes my mind right to the place of the horror and torture that I think Andrea went through. I feel trapped."

Petrie struggled to continue at moments, almost overcome with emotion.

Fifteen such statements were filed with the court.

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