Basil Borutski, sentenced to life in prison for murdering three of his former partners in a shocking one-day spree of violence in Renfrew County in 2015, will die behind bars.
In a packed Pembroke, Ont., courtroom Wednesday, Borutski learned he'll have to wait in prison for nearly 70 years before he'll be allowed to apply for parole.
By then, he'd be about 128 years old.
"From time to time, a crime is so deplorable, so devoid of mercy, so cold-blooded, that denunciation, retribution and giving a sense of justice to the many victims and the community at large becomes the paramount and virtually singular consideration," Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger said Wednesday.
"This is one such case."
Just outside, flags flew at half-mast in honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
'A violent, vindictive, calculating abuser of women'
On the morning of Sept. 22, 2015, Borutski strangled 66-year-old Carol Culleton to death with a television cable at her cottage near Combermere, Ont. She had retired from her work as a federal pay analyst just days earlier and had asked Borutski to stop bothering her.
After strangling her, Borutski stole Culleton's car and drove to 36-year-old real-estate agent and equestrian Anastasia Kuzyk's house in Wilno, Ont., where he shot her with a 12-gauge shotgun as her sister ran for her life.
From there Borutski drove to the farmhouse near Eganville, Ont., he once shared with his final victim, 48-year-old palliative care nurse Nathalie Warmerdam, and shot her as her son fled.
Borutski was convicted by a jury on Nov. 24 of two counts of first-degree murder for shooting Kuzyk and Warmerdam, and one count of second-degree murder for strangling Culleton.
During sentencing submissions Tuesday, Crown attorney Jeffery Richardson called on the judge to denounce Borutski's crimes in the strongest possible language, and Maranger appears to have heeded those words.
The "vicious, cold-blooded" murder of three "innocent, beloved women" was "one of the saddest, darkest days" in Renfrew County history, Maranger said.
He called Borutski a "violent, vindictive, calculating abuser of women" who "seems incapable of taking responsibility for his many wrongs," and who "took his hatred to its ultimate climax."
'I considered him family,' victim's daughter says
In an interview outside the courthouse after the sentencing, Valerie Warmerdam, Nathalie's daughter, said grieving, finishing high school, starting college and moving — all without her mother's advice and help — has "been a lot of stress."
She doesn't live in fear like her brother and his partner, but does have trouble trusting.
"This is a man I lived with for two years. I considered him [Borutski] family. He's the only person who I've ever called stepdad. And every little mannerism that is his, when I see it in somebody else, whether it's a phrase or just the way he stood, I immediately have to remind myself ... that doesn't mean that they're like him," she said.
"It's the whole process of learning to trust and learning, what's a reasonable thing to call a red flag and what isn't?"
As for Maranger's sentence, Valerie said it felt like a weight being lifted.
"This is the outcome we expected all along, or hoped for, at least. If anything else had happened we sure as heck would have had words to say, but it's definitely a weight off our shoulders that we don't have to be worrying about court dates, wondering what's going on, afraid of some technicality coming up," she said.
"It's definitely a weight off our shoulders, and he ain't never going to hurt anybody again."
Valerie is glad the case received attention, but she's hoping it leads to substantive change.
"There's certainly been some increased awareness and there's a lot of people pushing for change and using this as their foothold for change," she said. "I'm certainly hoping and waiting to hear bills that actually sound like they're going to make a difference being suggested, but I continue to wait. We'll see."
'My friend's life was valued'
Tracey McBain, Nathalie's closest friend, agreed.
"My friend's life was valued, and the sentence put the weight on that value, for all of the victims and their families," McBain said. "There's going to be — as Nathalie's mom did say — a hole, and that hole never can be filled. But at least this part's over. We can be relieved of that."
Richardson, the Crown attorney, said the sentence "sends a strong message that deplorable crimes will receive significant sentences.
"I wish I could stand here and say that the victims who have survived these crimes and the people of this county will be able to rise tomorrow to a new day and be able to move on, but ... that is a much easier thing to say than it is to do.... These crimes will have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for everyone who has been touched by them."
Borutski a threat until he dies: Crown
Richardson had sought consecutive periods of parole ineligibility totalling 70 years — just five years short of the maximum possible.
"Even as he becomes an old man, society needs to be separated from Basil Borutski," Richardson told court in his submissions Tuesday. "[He] holds a grudge. Anyone that wrongs him is a potential victim of violence at his hands. This is a threat that … will never diminish until he himself dies."
Amicus curiae James Foord, a lawyer appointed by the court to ensure Borutski gets a fair trial, agreed with the Crown about consecutive periods of parole ineligibility Tuesday, but argued it shouldn't be unduly long or harsh, and that 40 years was on the "outer limits" of an appropriate length of time.
By then Borutski would have been about 97 years old.
The average life expectancy of a man in Canada is about 80.