Brandon Blake Colford of Blackville will have to serve at least 15 years of a life sentence for killing Michael Ryan, who was stabbed 50 times during a burglary at his Miramichi home last year.

Colford, 22, was sentenced Monday for second-degree murder.

He confirmed his guilty plea in late July in the murder of the 49-year-old Ryan, who was found dead on April 23, 2016. 

Court in Miramichi heard Monday that Colford stabbed Ryan more than 50 times with a knife. The victim's dog was also stabbed. 

In his sentencing decision, Justice Frederick Ferguson referred to the gruesome nature of the murder. 

"This was a horrific, prolonged, callous, and senseless murder motivated by a preplanned determination to burglarize the home that Mr. Ryan owned and occupied," Ferguson wrote. 

'This was a horrific, prolonged, callous, and senseless murder.' - Justice Frederick Ferguson

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but the judge can decide how many years a person must spend in prison before being eligible for parole.

The Crown recommended a minimum of 16 years but Ferguson decided on 15.

Colford sat in the prisoner's box in Miramichi Court of Queen's Bench, dressed in grey, as the judge spoke.

Family satisfied with ruling 

Friends and family of Ryan's filled half the courtroom when Ferguson handed down his decision.

After the proceedings, Ross Wiseman, Ryan's brother-in-law, said family members are satisfied with the sentence. It will provide them with some closure, he said, though they continue to grieve Ryan's death. 

"We'll always remember Michael for the courageous person he was," he said.

Ryan's family was inspired by how he dealt with an injury suffered at work, Wiseman said. 

"He inspired us as family members with the very best of how you fight to become whole once again."

Searched for drugs, money 

Lucy Peterson, 44, of Blackville, who was charged with breaking and entering and being an accessory after the fact, pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, minus the six months she had already served.

Miramichi death

Michael Mark Ryan was stabbed at this mini home by a burglar looking for cash and drugs. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Colford and Peterson consumed drugs for days prior to Ryan's murder, court heard.

The pair agreed to break into Ryan's house in an attempt to find drugs and money on April 23.

Peterson drove to the Chatham area of Miramichi after midnight, parked outside Ryan's mini home at 28 Richard Dr. and turned off her vehicle. Colford went inside, armed with a knife in case anyone was home. 

He entered the home through an unlocked patio door, and Ryan and his two-year-old dog were inside. 

Head-to-toe stab wounds   

Colford was confronted by the victim, who found him rummaging through a closet in his son's bedroom. Colford began to stab Ryan after the victim jumped on his back, according to the statement of facts. 

The attack continued into the hall and into Ryan's bedroom. He suffered stab wounds from head to toe. 

Colford and Peterson then drove back to Blackville with a small amount of cash and marijuana and disposed of Colford's bloody clothes.

The murder weapon was later found in Ryan's closet, and his death described as the result of sharp-force injuries. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that Brandon Blake Colford must serve a minimum of 16 years in prison before being eligible for parole. In fact, Justice Frederick Ferguson set the minimum at 15 years.
    Sep 18, 2017 1:38 PM AT
With files from Kate Letterick