Disgraced Col. Russell Williams spoke out at his sentencing hearing in a Belleville court Thursday and said he was “ashamed” of the crimes that have “traumatized many people”.
The former military commander, who will soon be stripped of his rank, was handed two concurrent life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. He was also given a 10-year sentence for each of the two sexual assaults he committed and a one-year sentence for each of his 82 break-ins. He was taken to Kingston Penitentiary after the hearing, where killer Paul Bernardo is also serving his sentence.
The Crown won’t be seeking a dangerous offender designation, calling it “superfluous”. Prosecutor Lee Burgess said it would only prolong the suffering of the families.
“He won’t see the light of day,” Lloyd’s brother Andy said Thursday.
“I don’t really care what stipulation he has on him. As long as he dies in jail, I’m happy.”
The Crown is also seeking to seize Williams’ Nissan Pathfinder and crush it. Tire marks from the vehicle were a key piece of evidence in the case. Williams also used the SUV to take Lloyd to his home.
Justice Robert Scott told the court that “the depths of the depravity shown by Russell Williams have no equal.”
“Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer,” he said.
Williams told the court he committed “despicable crimes” that have caused pain for the families and friends of Comeau and Lloyd, in particular. He also noted the pain he caused to the two women he sexually assaulted and the dozens of women and girls he stole personal items from when he broke into their homes.
Williams, who was sniffling during his statement and handed a tissue, said “the understandable hatred” was “palpable” in court Wednesday when family and friends of his victims read their impact statements.
“I shall spend the rest of my life regretting, above all, that I’ve ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives,” he said.
Williams hopes his guilty pleas “served to temper the very serious harm I caused my victims, and their families and friends.”
Williams confessed to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Comeau and Lloyd, two sexual assaults and the 82 break-ins.
The evidence shown in court has been graphic. On Wednesday, a videotaped confession from Williams and victim impact statements were heard. On Tuesday, the court heard details of sexual assaults and the murders of Comeau and Lloyd. On Monday the Crown outlined details of how Williams broke into dozens of homes and how he stole underwear from women and girls as young as 12. Photographs of Williams posing in the garments were shown in court.
Meanwhile, some people who live in the same town where Williams committed his heinous crimes want his home torn down.
Tweed, Ont. residents are calling for Williams’ cottage to be demolished.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday the Canadian Forces will do everything in its power to ensure Williams’ doesn’t receive his pension, estimated to be about $60,000 a year. However, the military has said it doesn’t have the power to revoke his benefits.
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, chief of the air staff, said the military is set to reduce Williams’ monthly salary, reportedly $12,000, that he’s been receiving since February.
With files from The Canadian Press.
The transcript of Williams’ statement:
I stand before you, your honour, indescribably ashamed. I know that the crimes I’ve committed have traumatized many people. The families and friends of Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd, in particular, have suffered and continue to suffer profound desperate pain and sorrow as a result of what I’ve done. My assaults of (publication of name prohibited) and Ms. (Laurie) Massicotte have caused them to suffer terribly as well, I know.
Numerous victims of the break and enters I’ve committed have been very seriously distressed as a result of my so having invaded their most intimate privacy.
My family, your honour, has been irreparably harmed. The understandable hatred that was expressed yesterday, and has been palpable throughout the week, has me recognize this.
(There are) those who will find it impossible to accept, but the fact is, I very deeply regret what I have done and the harm that I know I have caused to many. I’ve committed despicable crimes, your honour. In the process, betraying my family, my friends and colleagues, and the Canadian Forces.
I shall spend the rest of my life regretting, above all, that I’ve ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives.
My very sincere hope is that my detailed confession on the night of Feb. 7, my full co-operation with investigators since, and ultimately my guilty pleas earlier this week have, in some way, served to temper the very serious harm I caused my victims, and their families and friends.