Defence lawyer James Miglin, left to right, Justice John McMahon, court registrar, Bruce McArthur, Crown Attorney Michael Cantlon, Detective Hank Idsinga, and friends and family of victims, back right, are shown in this court sketch in Toronto on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press)

UPDATE: Bruce McArthur sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years

Justice John McMahon said he has no doubt McArthur would have continued to kill if he wasn’t arrested

Serial killer Bruce McArthur murdered eight men from Toronto’s gay village for “his own warped and sick gratification,” an Ontario judge said Friday as he sentenced the 67-year-old to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The ruling means McArthur will be 91 before he can apply for any form of release, which the judge said he was highly unlikely to receive.

“Although Mr. McArthur has taken responsibility by pleading guilty, there has been no evidence I can see of remorse,” said Justice John McMahon. “Mr. McArthur would have no doubt continued to kill if he wasn’t caught.”

McArthur, a self-employed landscaper, pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder for men he killed between 2010 and 2017.

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

The judge found McArthur strangled all of them and then took photographs of their bodies in various states of undress, keeping the images on his computer and viewing them long after his crimes.

McArthur then dismembered his victims and hid their remains in planters at a Toronto residential property where he stored his landscaping equipment, and in a ravine behind the home.

“Bruce McArthur is a sexual predator and killer who lured his victims on the pretext of consensual sex and he ended up killing them for his own warped and sick gratification,” McMahon said. “The ability to decapitate and dismember his victims and do it repeatedly is pure evil.”

Parole eligibility was the only question for 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.”

The sentence wasn’t harsh enough for Nicole Borthwick, who was friends with Kinsman, Lisowick and Esen.

She said the punishment failed to either fit the crime or soothe the wounds of the community impacted by the men’s deaths.

“I don’t think that’s enough comfort for the families or the community or the people that he’s killed,” Borthwick said outside court. “I think that if you’re going to do a maximum crime, you deserve the maximum sentence.”

Toronto’s police Chief Mark Saunders was satisfied with the sentence, saying McArthur will never see daylight again.

“I do not see him in a public setting ever again,” he said. “In this case life will mean life.”

Saunders also defended the work of his investigators, who have been criticized for not acting sooner on concerns from the LGBTQ community that a serial killer was responsible for the disappearances of several men from the gay village.

The chief said officers had launched an investigation into the disappearances of McArthur’s first three victims, but simply never had enough evidence to proceed further until 2017.

“This was not a case of police didn’t think anything was going on,” Saunders said. “We knew something stunk and we did everything we could to find it. We just didn’t.”

Court heard that many of McArthur’s 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. “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.”

At a two-day sentencing hearing earlier this week, 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.

A friend of Kanagaratnam said the man’s family still has many questions that haven’t been answered. Kanagaratnam came to Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea after fleeing Sri Lanka in 2010 and went into hiding in 2015 after his refugee claim was rejected, his loved ones said.

“Police have no evidence how he connected with a serial killer — the family still wants to know the how they connected,” said Piranavan Thangavel, who came over on the Sun Sea with Kanagaratnam.

Court did not hear details about how Kanagaratnam knew McArthur.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said McArthur’s victims should “never be forgotten.”

“It is my hope that he will never again know freedom and that this sentence begins the difficult journey of delivering justice to the victims of these crimes, their friends and families, our LGBTQ community, and our entire city,” Tory said.

Police are still reviewing a series of cold cases to see if they can find any links to McArthur but have said that so far, they believe he didn’t kill anyone else.

With files from Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuigge.

Liam Casey , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Castlegar fire chief asking residents to clear hydrants buried in snow

A visible fire hydrant will save precious time in case of an emergency.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital back to normal after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Most Read