The sentencing hearing for serial killer Bruce McArthur who targeted men with ties to Toronto’s gay village will take place this week as more than two dozen victim impact states are expected to be read into court.
Lawyers defending 67-year-old McArthur and Crown prosecutors will provide submissions starting on Monday for McArthur, who last week pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. He faces an automatic life prison sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. McArthur will be 91 years old by then.
Prior to the hearing, the Crown issued an unusual warning to those in attendance that graphic and gruesome details will be discussed that could affect the health and wellbeing of those in the courtroom. He urged anyone who becomes “overwhelmed” to feel free to excuse themselves and ask court staff for assistance.
McArthur admitted to the murders of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Soroush Mahmaudi, Dean Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Skanda Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam. He killed them between 2010 and 2017. McArthur was arrested last January and has been held in custody ever since.
The court will decide whether the former landscaper, who admitted to hiding the dismembered bodies of most of his victims in garden planters, will serve concurrent or consecutive sentences for the eight murders. If the sentences are stacked on one another, that would push back his eligibility for parole even further.
The court is expected to hear a more detailed account of McArthur’s killings, which were described in a brief statement of facts last week.
That statement revealed that six of the eight murders were “sexual in nature” and involved ligature and confinement. Some of the victims’ dead bodies were “staged.”
The Crown prosecutor told the court on Monday that police obtained a search warrant and covertly searched McArthur’s apartment last January, during which they found photos of the deceased victims on his digital devices. There were 18 photos of one of his victims, Andrew Kinsman, who vanished in June 2017. The photos showed Kinsman lying on top of a fur coat, naked, with pillows and blankets beneath him. There was a rope looped around his neck that held a bar wrapped in tape. This mechanism, the Crown stated, would increase the pressure on the victim’s neck when rotated.
McArthur kept items belonging to the victims, according to the statement. Investigators discovered a duffle bag containing duct tape, rope, zip ties, a bungee cord, syringes, and a surgical glove, during their search of McArthur’s bedroom.
Family members and community leaders have called for a public inquiry into the way in which police officers dealt with the case. For years, concerns that a serial killer was targeting Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community were rebuffed by police. Last year, the Toronto Police board struck an independent review of how the force handles missing persons cases, excluding the McArthur investigation.
The former Ontario Court of Appeal judge overseeing the review requested after his guilty plea that her mandate be expanded to include McArthur.
The sentencing hearing is expected to continue through Wednesday.
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