Serial killer Bruce McArthur will be eligible to apply for parole after spending at least 25 years in prison for the murders of eight men in Toronto, a judge ordered on Friday.
McArthur, 67, will be 91 when his first chance at parole comes up.
In his sentencing decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon noted the gruesome nature of McArthur’s crimes, but said there is a “fine line between retribution and vengeance.”
He also said there is very little chance the former landscaper will ever be granted parole.
Last week, McArthur pleaded guilty to all eight murders between 2010 and 2017. Most of the victims, as well as McArthur himself, had deep ties to Toronto’s Gay Village neighbourhood.
First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no parole for 25 years, but until today, the question remained whether he would be sentenced to consecutive or concurrent life terms.
Crown lawyers had asked the judge to hand down a sentence that would ensure McArthur would have to serve at least 50 years in prison.
While McMahon said the murders were “pure evil” and the longer sentence would have been “symbolic,” he cited McArthur’s guilty plea and his age as reasons for his decision.
McMahon said that while McArthur took responsibility by pleading guilty, “there has been no evidence of remorse” from him during his interactions with police. Furthermore, McMahon said, he believes McArthur “would have kept killing” had he not been apprehended by police in January 2018 after months of surveillance.
Family and friends of McArthur’s victims addressed the court, giving impact statements, during the first two days of the sentencing hearing earlier this week. They are expected to speak this afternoon to media outside the University Avenue courthouse in downtown Toronto.
A 36-page agreed statement of facts read out in court Monday disclosed that McArthur restrained and strangled at least some of his victims. He also kept images of his victims, both alive and dead, in eight digital files stored on a computer in his Thorncliffe Park apartment.
“These men, sadly, did not die a quick and painless death,” McMahon said Friday.
In a number of instances, victims had been posthumously staged before the photographs were taken, which McMahon said was “no doubt for [McArthur’s] perverted form of sexual gratification.”
Remains of seven of the men were found in five garden planters at a mid-Toronto home where McArthur had worked and stored his landscaping tools. Remains of another man were found buried in a ravine at back of the property.
McMahon said McArthur’s ability to repeatedly decapitate and dismember his victims was an aggravating factor. He also noted McArthur specifically targeted people living on the margins of society.
As part of his sentence, McArthur will be added to the sex offender’s list and is banned from contacting his victims’ families.