Serial killer Bruce McArthur, who murdered eight men connected to Toronto’s gay village, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. McArthur will be 91 when he is eligible for parole.
McArthur, 67, was sentenced Friday to eight life sentences to be served concurrently.
He pleaded guilty in late January to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Soroush Mahmaudi, Dean Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Skanda Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam. He carried out the murder spree between 2010 and 2017 and was arrested in January 2018.
The Crown attorney asked McArthur not be eligible for parole for 50 years—when he would be 116—while McArthur’s attorney asked the judge to grant him parole eligibility at age 91.
In a downtown Toronto courtroom Friday, Justice John McMahon said McArthur “lured eight innocent men to their deaths.” He described his crimes—
murdering and dismembering his victims
—as “pure evil.”
McMahon said the impact on victims’ loved ones, the vulnerability of the victims, and the nature of the crimes were aggravating factors in the decision.
"These men died a slow and painful death,” he said. He also noted the devastating impact McArthur's crimes have had on the city's LGBT community.
McArthur never addressed the court nor did he express remorse.
McMahon cited McArthur’s decision to plead guilty, saving everyone from having to go through a graphic trial, and his decision to waive a preliminary hearing as mitigating factors. He also said the chances of McArthur being granted parole at 91 were very remote. McMahon said if McArthur had been younger, he would have accepted the Crown’s submission of 50 years before chance for parole.
According to an agreed statement of facts, McArthur met most of his victims under sexual pretenses, communicating with many of them via dating apps. He killed them using ligature strangulation, with a rope, often in his bedroom.
McArthur also staged his victims after the murders, posing them in a fur coat with a cigar in between their lips. He kept photographs of his victims as well as some of their possessions, for his own “perverted sexual gratification,” Justice McMahon said.
Police found photos of Kinsman posed naked on top of a fur coat, with a rope around his neck that was attached to a bar wrapped in tape. That bar was used to increase pressure during strangulation.
After carrying out the killings, McArthur, a landscaper, dismembered most of his victims and buried them in large garden planters. He kept a duffle bag with rope, a bungee cord, duct tape, syringes, zip ties, and a surgical glove in his room. He also stashed a fur coat in his car.
McArthur was eventually caught when police arrived at his door after seeing him take a man called John into his apartment. McArthur had handcuffed John to his bed and had been attempting to tape his mouth shut.
“John would have been the ninth victim of Mr. McArthur,” Justice McMahon said in court.
During McArthur’s sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Michael Cantlon said McArthur exploited “vulnerabilities” when choosing his victims. Six of the eight weren’t originally from Canada, coming either as immigrants or refugees. Lisowick was at times homeless, while Kanagaratnam had unsuccessfully attempted to seek asylum in Canada.
Last week, the family members and friends of McArthur’s victims shared in court statements expressing their grief and anguish.
Phil Werren, a friend of Skanda Navaratnam said, "it took me several years to come to terms with this loss. I believed for years that he had simply disappeared. But secretly I worried that he had been killed."
Andrew Kinsman’s sister Patricia expressed the “shock and disgust” she felt upon seeing her brother’s remains. “A wonderful man gone from the world. Murdered by him. We never say his name.”
—with files from Rachel Browne
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