A judge has ruled that Nigel John must serve 12 years in prison before he is eligible for parole, calling his murder of a Montreal taxi driver both "brutal" and "inexplicable."

John was convicted of second-degree murder on Nov. 1 and sentenced to 25 years for in prison for stabbing and killing taxi driver Mohammed Nehar-Belaid, 64, almost three years ago.

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Nigel John is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Montreal taxi driver. (CBC)

On Thursday, Superior Court Justice Sophie Bourque ruled John serve at least 12 years without parole. That total includes the three years he has already spent in custody.

Crown prosecutor Helene Di Salvo said she hopes the ruling will send a strong message to anyone who might want to attack a taxi driver.

The prosecution recommended that John serve 15 years of his sentence without parole, while the defence asked for the minimum,10 years.

Last week the widow of Nehar-Belaid was taken to hospital after an emotional court appearance.

Yamina Boukalba was unable to finish her testimony at John's sentencing hearing and was taken out of the courthouse on a stretcher.  

In a letter read at the hearing Boukalba said that she was married to her husband for 42 years and she suffers the loss of her husband on daily basis.

Her daughter also tearfully told the court that her father was her best friend.

John spoke briefly at the hearing and apologized.

Nehar-Belaid's body found in a vacant lot

Nehar-Belaid's body was found covered with a piece of carpet in a vacant lot in LaSalle, three days after he disappeared.

His family said he never came home Monday, Nov. 30, when he was scheduled for an overnight shift driving a car for Champlain Taxi.

Police found Nehar-Balaid's cab abandoned on a cul-de-sac in Côte-Saint-Luc.

Authorities said John was arrested based on tips following the release of surveillance footage of a suspect believed to be using Nehar-Belaid's car at a gas station in Verdun, a borough neighbouring the one where his body was found.

Police said the suspect captured on tape used Nehar-Belaid's credit card at an Ultramar station.