Don Schiemann, father of RCMP Const. Peter Schiemann, speaks to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse on Friday. (CBC)

Shawn Hennessey and Dennis Cheeseman, who admitted helping James Roszko kill four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005, were sentenced in Edmonton on Friday to 15 years and 12 years in prison, respectively.

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Eric Macklin gave the men credit for pleading guilty and for time already spent in custody — reducing Cheeseman's sentence to seven years and two months, and Hennessey's to 10 years and four months.

Cheeseman, 25, and Hennessey, 29, from Barrhead, Alta., both pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Jan. 19. Cheeseman has spent nearly 11 months in custody and Hennessey about 10 months. 

During the sentencing, Macklin commended the four slain officers for bravery.

"These four men were Canadian heroes and will forever be remembered as such," the judge said.

Macklin criticized the selfishness of Hennessey, saying he acted in his own self-interest to protect himself when he gave Roszko a gun.

'My heart goes out particularly to Christine Hennessey and her children. They have been and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.' — Don Schiemann, father of slain officer Peter Schiemann

Cheeseman was a bystander, the judge said, but he shared the blame for what happened.

"They will have to live forever with the fact that they could have prevented these four deaths. One phone call could have stopped it," Keith Myrol, the father of slain officer Brock Myrol, said outside the courthouse.

Mryol said he hoped the two men would get educations and counselling in prison.

"We want them to come out better than when they went in. We want them to learn and come out so they don't have to attach to someone like Roszko in the future, so they can come out and stand on their own and be good citizens."

Don Schiemann, father of slain officer Peter Schiemann, said he was satisfied with the sentence.

"Given the parameters of the sentencing principles in the Criminal Code and the sentencing guidelines that the judge had to work with, I think he did the best job possible," he said.


Colleen and Keith Myrol, parents of RCMP Const. Brock Myrol, speak to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse on Friday. (CBC)

"My heart goes out particularly to Christine Hennessey and her children. They have been and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers," he said.

Christine Hennessey is Cheeseman's sister and Hennessey's wife.

The sentences Hennessey and Cheeseman received Friday were more than what their lawyers had recommended in court last week.

Hennessey's lawyer, D'Arcy Depoe, had argued his client should receive a maximum five-year prison term, which would be brought down to three years, after credit was given for the guilty plea and time spent in custody.

Cheeseman's lawyer, Peter Northcott, asked the judge to sentence his client to no more than four years in prison.

The Crown argued the men should each receive terms in the range of 10 to 15 years.

In an agreed statement of facts, Cheeseman and Hennessey admitted they gave Roszko a rifle and drove him to his farm in the early hours of March 3, 2005, where RCMP were investigating a marijuana grow operation and auto parts "chop shop" in a Quonset hut on Roszko's property

In an ambush later that morning, Roszko shot and killed RCMP constables Brock Myrol, Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon and Leo Johnston — the single worst loss of life in RCMP history.

Roszko then killed himself.

With files from the Canadian Press