Warren White pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Amanda Power. ((CBC))

A St. John's man who strangled his girlfriend last year, and later cut her body into pieces to dispose of it, was sentenced Tuesday to at least 17 years in prison before he can ask for parole.  

Warren White, 36, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the death of Amanda Power, 29, whose torso was discovered in a suitcase near their Warbury Street home.

"The whole community was shocked by the brutal killing and dismemberment of Amanda Power," Justice James Adams told White Tuesday while handing down his sentence in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

Adams added that White's actions provoke "utter revulsion in anyone with a conscience."

A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. The Crown and defence had very different views on parole eligibility for White, who had also pleaded guilty to performing an indignity to a human body.

'Nobody will ever know the terror, pain and sense of betrayal Amanda Power felt in those 20 seconds before she lost consciousness.' —Justice James Adams

Adams cited evidence from medical examiner Dr. Simon Avis, who found that Power would have been strangled for 20 seconds before she passed out, and another 90 seconds before she died.

"Nobody will ever know the terror, pain and sense of betrayal Amanda Power felt in those 20 seconds before she lost consciousness," Adams told the court.

In his ruling, Adams said White can ask to have his parole eligibility reviewed, but not until he has served 15 years in prison.

Adams ruled that White is not allowed to own guns, ammunition or explosive substances.

He also ordered White to submit a DNA sample to a national criminal database. 

In sentencing submissions last week, the Crown argued that White should serve at least 20 years in prison before he can even apply for parole.

The defence, however, argued that White should be eligible for parole in 12 years. Lawyer Lori Marshall said White was high on drugs at the time he strangled Power with his hands, and told Adams that White is filled with remorse.

Apologizes to family

In court last Friday, White apologized to Power's family and to his own family for what he had done. Reading from a letter he wrote earlier this year, White said, "This past year in prison has been the hardest thing in my life, thinking about what I did to Amanda. It has been eating me up inside. I still love her. I was so whacked out on pills, I didn't know what I was doing."

The prosecution, however, told Adams he should be wary of White's claims of remorse. Prosecutor Phil LeFeuvre said White had gone to some lengths to conceal his crime, even though he confessed to police hours after Power's remains were discovered.

The court was told that White left Power's body alone for about a week after he killed her, and then used a hacksaw and a knife to cut her body into pieces.