Travis Vader sentenced to life in prison
Travis Vader was sentenced Wednesday to a single term of life in prison for the manslaughter deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann.
Prior to sentencing, Justice Denny Thomas asked Vader if he had anything to say to the court. "This court has convicted an innocent man," replied Vader, "I will continue the fight until I can clear my name."
Family members of the slain couple watched the sentencing, and commented via video conference link from Australia.
“This has truly been a marathon," Bret McCann, son of Lyle and Marie McCann, said. He called the life sentence a "huge relief" for the family.
“We are thrilled that justice has been served today, Vader will spend the prime years of his life in prison, and the public will be protected from this criminal.”
The couple, both in their 70s from St. Albert, went missing in July 2010 after leaving their home for a camping trip to British Columbia.
Their burned-out motorhome and vehicle were later discovered, though their bodies never were found.
Justice Thomas previously described Vader as a desperate drug addict who came across the McCanns and killed them during a robbery.
The Crown asked for a life sentence, saying Vader was out on bail and on the run on other charges when he killed the couple.
Vader will be eligible for parole after 7 years. Scroll down to read the full decision.
Outside court, prosecutors – who put together a case, in the absence of a crime scene, cause of death or human remains, said the judge got the sentencing right.
“Moral culpability for the second killing would have been much higher than that of the first, in the Crown’s submission, it would be as high as you could possibly get without actually reaching murder,” Crown Prosecutor Ashley Finlayson said.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh said the case had too much speculation, and he plans to start appealing the sentence within a week.
“After 40 years of practice, I must say, this is one of those few cases that haunts me and remains a mystery in terms of what happened and how we got here,” Beresh said.
RCMP released a statement in the wake of the sentencing, saying police respect the decision on Vader’s sentence.
“When a crime occurs, the role of police is to investigate by gathering evidence and providing it to the Crown in support of a prosecution. The RCMP fulfilled that role in this case.
“Today, our thoughts are with the McCann family, who have demonstrated courage throughout the tragic loss of Lyle and Marie McCann and the resulting criminal trial.”
It isn’t clear where Vader will serve his sentence, but it will likely be in British Columbia – Beresh has asked for him to go there due to threats Vader has received. Neither the Crown nor Justice Thomas opposed it.
With files from The Canadian Press, Bill Fortier and David Ewasuk