'I forgive you,' grieving mother tells son's jailhouse killer

A grieving mother, whose son was beaten to death at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, turned to face his jailhouse killer in a London courtroom Friday.

Anthony George has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 10 years

Adam Kargus' family walks out of court Friday, following the sentencing of his killer Anthony George. George was Kargus' cellmate when he beat the 29-year-old man to death in an alcohol and drug-fuelled frenzy. (Joseph Loiero/CBC News)

A grieving mother, whose son was beaten to death at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, turned to face his jailhouse killer in a London courtroom. 

Anthony George was sentenced to life in prison Friday with no possibility of parole for 10 years by Justice Bruce Thomas, who said "to suggest the murder was brutal would be an understatement." 

Kargus was choked, punched, kicked and stomped to death by George during an alcohol and drug-induced frenzy of violence while the two men were locked in a jail cell. 

A post-mortem later found that Kargus died of blunt force trauma to the neck, head and face, which was so badly beaten, his body had to be identified by its tattoos. 

"I would have gladly taken that beating to save my son any pain and save his life," said Deb Abrams as she read her victim impact statement to the court.
Adam Kargus, 29, was beaten to death by his cellmate Anthony George in 2013. (Deb Abrams)

Abrams explained the physical and emotional toll she has suffered since her son's death, including the inability to work, the loss of income and declining mental and physical health.

When she was finished, she turned to face her son's killer. 

"Anthony, as a mother, I forgive you," she said. 

"I don't forgive myself," George told her. 

"I do forgive you as a mother so I can move forward," she told her son's killer. "My husband needs his wife back."

Anthony George addressed the court Friday

Earlier, the court heard from George, who was given a chance to address the Kargus family directly. 

"I honestly didn't mean for this to happen," George began. "I considered Adam a friend. It wasn't a native or white thing."

"I'm sorry you guys, I did not mean for this to happen," he said as Kargus' family could be heard weeping in court.

"It was my full intention to take care of him. I treated him like a brother."
The Kargus family arrives at the London courthouse Friday as sentencing hearings got underway in the second degree murder case that killed Adam Kargus (Colin Butler/ CBC News )

George went to explain how he had consumed most of a toilet boil full of jailhouse brew, an improvised alcoholic concoction made by mashing and fermenting fruit.

George also smoked a cigarette laced with PCP. He explained that when a guard wouldn't let him make a phone call, it triggered a rage in him that he eventually took out on Kargus in a deadly beating that lasted hours.

"I will never be able to repay what I took from you guys," he told the family. "I am truly sorry."

"I didn't mean for this to happen," he said. "I blacked out."

Justice Bruce Thomas then reminded George that, when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Kargus' death, he admitted he intended to cause his cellmate harm.

"Do you accept that was the case?" the judge asked George.

"Yes," George told the judge. "I was blacked out the whole time."

George prone to violence after drinking alcohol

Court documents showed that social workers had identified alcohol as a trigger for George to commit crime, who had been in and out of jail frequently during his life.
Inmate Anthony George pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the 2013 beating of his cellmate, Adam Kargus. (Facebook)

The court also heard that George had been drinking since he was 11, which was borne from his parents splitting up.

The Kettle Point First Nations man went through the details of his troubled life, including finding his mother dead by suicide a year after he started drinking.

"I found her hanging from a rope when I was 12," he said.

George will now serve life in prison with no possibility of parole for 10 years. He will also undergo a blood DNA analysis, a lifetime weapons ban and will receive counselling for alcohol and substance abuse. 

Justice Bruce Thomas ordered that the court recognizes George is a First Nations offender and that his rehabilitation should reognize his traditional cultural principles. 

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca