BELLEVILLE — Col. Russell Williams, who Judge Robert Scott said today “will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer,” has been sentenced to two concurrent life sentences with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
“I stand before you, your Honour, indescribably ashamed,” David Russell Williams told the court Thursday.
“I know that the crimes I committed . . .” And then the man who killed two women and sexually assaulted two others after a string of fetish thefts paused for a long time.
“. . . have traumatized many people. The family and friends of Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd in particular have suffered.”
Comeau, 37, and Lloyd, 27, were killed after hours of torture and rape by Williams, then commander of the largest air force base in Canada.
“. . . and continued to suffer profound pain and sorrow as a result of what I’ve done.”
His voice weak, Williams snivelled as he spoke on the last day of hearings into his 88 crimes. He pleaded guilty and was convicted of all of them.
His sexual assault victims, Jane Doe and Laurie Massicotte, have “suffered terribly” as well, he said.
“I’ve committed despicable crimes, your Honour, in the process betraying my friends and family. . . and the Canadian Forces,” Williams said.
“I will spend the rest of my life regretting most of all that I have ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives.”
Williams will be thrown out of the military, stripped of his rank and forced to pay back his salary accumulated since his arrest, Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, chief of air staff, said Thursday.
“We are now able to take action,” Deschamps said at a news conference at the base Williams commanded.
“There will not be a separate military court martial,” because Williams has already been convicted in civilian court, said Deschamps. At the moment, “there is no foundation for removing his pension.”
“Don’t call him colonel,” said Deschamps. Although the process will take time, Deschamps believes Williams lost the priviledge of his rank on conviction.
Jessica Lloyd’s brother Andy spoke outside the courthouse afterwards. “As long as he dies in jail, I’m happy.” Of Williams’ statement, he said, “I’m not sure that man can show any emotion.”
“I’m glad he cried,” Jessica’s mother, Roxanne, said as she held a framed picture of her daughter. “Justice was served.”
She carried that picture every day this week because “it’s all about Jessica.”
Williams said he hopes his detailed confession, co-operation with police and guilty pleas will in some way contribute to helping victims.
“There exist very few mitigating circumstances in this case,” even if Williams’ guilty pleas did save the family and victims a long trial, said Scott.
“Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer” who “lived a charmed life,” said Scott.
“Russell Williams’ fall from grace has been swift and sure.”
Scott found Williams’ words sincere, but considers him a sick and dangerous man.
“In this country, we do not have capital punishment. There are excellent reasons why this is so,” the judge said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, but these special victims and their families are the most damaged,” he said
“Marie-France did not have to die. Jessica did not have to die.”
In his 15-minute closing statement, Crown prosecutor Lee Burgess had said, “David Russell Williams is simply one of the most despicable killers in Canadian history.”
He spoke for the family of Marie-France Comeau. She was her father’s “ray of sunshine.”
“He has broken their lives,” said Burgess. “They consider it a monstrous betrayal of trust. They simply want to be left alone to confront their sorrow and cry together in private.
“No doubt he laughed at us as he lived his life as a community leader by day and a serial criminal by night.
“He transformed this community because he betrayed this community and he betrayed the military.”
Outside the courthouse, Burgess said, “I don’t know what his remorse level is. I don’t think we’ll ever know.”
Crown attorneys released such graphic and gruesome evidence of Williams’ crimes over two days “so people knew what he was about,” he said.
The Crown asked that the discussion be delayed for another day of whether to destroy the thousands of photos and videotape of sexual assaults and murders that Williams himself took during his three-year crime rampage.
“Not while I’m alive,” will the photos or tapes be released, OPP Det.-Insp. Chris Nicholas said on the courthouse steps. They’re under lock and key at police headquarters.
The dozen images of Williams posing in stolen lingerie that have been released “are only a snippet of the horror of that man,” said Nicholas. “No one should ever see” the full visual record of his depravity, he said.
The Pathfinder Williams used “will be taken to a crusher” and the stolen lingerie and rope he bound his victims with will be burned, the case’s lead dective said.
Williams, 47, was to be taken to Kingston Penitentiary immediately after the sentencing, which ended shortly before 11 a.m. The judge ordered him entered into the sexual-offender registry and given a lifetime ban on possessing weapons.
He will likely spend his life in solitary confinement, which is usual for “people of his nature,” said Nicholas.
The detective had teared up Wednesday as Jessica Lloyd’s family spoke of the agony they live with after her murder, but Thursday he was unmoved.
“I had a hard time fighting back tears yesterday,” said Nicholas. “I didn’t feel that today. I don’t feel sorry for Mr. Williams.”
All of the sentences are concurrent, meaning they will be served at the same time, making Williams eligible for parole in 2035.
But Scott warned Williams as the disgraced colonel stood facing him: “Your eligibility for parole is after 25 years. That’s no guarantee you’ll be eligible.”