Bruce McArthur will be 91 years old when he is eligible for parole after a judge sentenced him Friday to eight counts of first-degree murder, to be served concurrently.
The serial killer sat emotionless in court as Judge John McMahon read out his reasons for the sentence.
Last year McArthur waved his right to a preliminary hearing and last week he pleaded guilty to all eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.
McMahon said McArthur’s actions caused devastation to not only the friends and family of his victims, but also to the LGBTQ community and the people of Toronto.
“One of the most aggravating factors is the impact on the victims’ family, friends and loved ones. The family friends and the community have been victimized twice – once when they went missing … then again when they learn the horrific truth,” McMahon said.
“Today hopefully brings a final end to the criminal justice process without a lengthy and graphic public trial. I recognize for the family, friends and the community, the end of the criminal process doesn’t bring closure to their loss. They will live with this nightmare for the rest of their lives. This court cannot give them what they want the most – which is their loved one back.”
However, when it came to deciding if he was going to deliver a consecutive sentence – where McArhur would be eligible for parole in 50 years – or concurrent, McMahon said the sentenced needed to be realistic, not symbolic.
“Even if the accused is eligible for parole at 91 – it’s highly unlikely that, due to the savage nature of the crime, he would be granted parole.” McMahon explained.
“Sentencing Mr. McArthur to parole ineligibility until he is 116 years of age is symbolic. There’s a fine line between retribution, which is an appropriate sentencing principle, and vengeance.”
McMahon said that in coming to his decision he took into account the safety of the public, McArthur’s advanced age, as well as deterring others from committing similar crimes.
“If the accused had either had a trial or would have been a younger man, I would have had no hesitation of imposing a consecutive parole.”
He also considered McArthur’s decision to plead guilty – saving friends and family of the victims, as well as the community and a jury, the gruesome details of a four-month trial.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders addressed the sentence during a conference at police headquarters.
“If it was one of my loved ones (who was a victim) there wouldn’t be any sentence that would make me happy,” Saunders said. “Let’s be honest here, I do not see Bruce McArthur seeing daylight. I do not see him in a public setting again.
“If he were to be paroled we would have to start questioning our sentencing in the country. I’ll take it for face value that in this case that life will mean life at the end of the day. He’s eligible for parole in 25 years, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be free.”
During the two hours it took for the judge to read his reasons for sentencing, McMahon recounted other cases he had looked into involving multiple murders, in which the accused had pleaded guilty.
He noted that in Ontario, the closest case to McArthur’s was that of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the former registered nurse from Woodstock who murdered 14 patients with insulin injections.
McMahon noted that an important difference between the two cases was that Wettlaufer expressed remorse for her actions – “unlike Mr. McArthur.”
McMahon called McArthur a “sexual predator” and a “serial killer” who “lured his victims on the pretext of consensual sex and ended up killing them for his own warped and sick gratification.”
He sited the USB found with the sub file titled with the names of McArthur’s victims and containing photos of them, both alive and dead, as something done “no doubt for his own perverted sexual gratification.”
McMahon said McArthur not only took advantage of vulnerable people in the community but also innocent people like the homeowners on Mallory Crescent, where he had stored the cut up body parts of his victims, unbeknownst to them.
“All of the victims were vulnerable individuals lured to their deaths,” he said.
“(McArthur) also exploited others in the belief that he was their friend … they placed their trust in him which he manipulated and used to his advantage. I find this exploitation of their vulnerability to be extremely aggravating.”
During his decision McMahon spoke about the good work by Toronto police in capturing McArthur and said that there was no doubt in his mind that had they not intervened when they did, McArthur would have killed the man found tied to his bed at the time of arrest.
A ninth sub file on McArthur’s found USB storage device had been titled “John” – the name of the man found handcuffed to the bed, naked, with duct tape over his mouth.