A convicted killer who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a crime spree that started with his escape from corrections officials, and ended in a shootout with RCMP learned his fate Wednesday.

On Tuesday, William Wade Bicknell pleaded guilty to a total of 14 charges related to the crime spree that lasted more than a week in March 2011.

In an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Mackling handed down Bicknell’s sentence, a life sentence, with no chance of parole for 8.5 years.

The Crown Prosecutor on the case said the sentence sends a strong message.

“Life is a sentence that’s reserved primarily for murder or manslaughter cases and is very rare, other than those circumstances,” Crown Prosecutor Orest Yereniuk said. “The fact that a life sentence was imposed for home invasions, ‘B and E’s’, armed robbery, means in Alberta we are concerned about our safe communities and when you commit these types of crimes, life is a potential sentence for you.”

Back in March, 2011, Bicknell was out on a day pass from the Drumheller Correctional Facility – and used a knife to overpower his guard and escape.

Over the next nine days, Bicknell robbed and held a number of rural homeowners hostage, and stole a car.

Bicknell had been serving a life sentence for a 2003 murder when he escaped custody; his new sentence will be served concurrently.

With files from David Ewasuk