British Columbia

'You are among the worst of offenders': Read judge's severe sentencing address to killer of Monica Jack

Monica Jack was murdered on May 6, 1978. Garry Handlen was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for her death last month. The judge's reasons for sentencing were published Thursday.

Judge told Garry Handlen his actions were 'nothing less than cruel and barbaric; in short, inhuman'

Monica Jack was last seen on May 6, 1978, just days shy of her 13th birthday.

Monica Jack was murdered in 1978.

The 12-year-old was last seen riding her new bike on the quiet highway between Merritt, B.C., and her family home on the Quilchena reserve. She was wearing a pink floral shirt and brown corduroys.

Years later, Garry Handlen confessed to killing Monica.

Handlen, who had in the past been convicted of rape and sexual assault, told an undercover police officer he grabbed Monica from a highway pullout, forced her into his camper van, and threw her bike into a lake. He said he sexually assaulted and strangled her, later burning her clothes and parts of her body.

Monica's skull and bones were found on a mountain in the area 17 years later.

Handlen, now 71, was last month found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

A mugshot of a white man with brown hair.
Garry Taylor Handlen as he would have looked in the 1970s. (RCMP)

Even though a life sentence is automatic with that conviction, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin F. Cullen didn't mince words in explaining his reasons for the sentence. 

These are Cullen's reasons, taken from the court transcript, which was released online Thursday:

Garry Handlen, you have been convicted of the first degree murder of Monica Jack. First degree murder is the most serious offence known to the Canadian criminal law. This particular crime is among the worst of its kind and you are among the worst of offenders. Your actions were certain to bring an innocent child terror and pain before her life was so savagely ended.

This was not your first offence nor was it your last offence. You have demonstrated before and demonstrated after this happened that you are a sexual predator who preys on the vulnerable and weak. The consequence of your actions are profound and widespread. You ripped away the life of a young girl and deprived her of the opportunity to grow into adulthood and experience all that life has to offer.

You have deprived her family of a daughter, a sister, a cousin, and a niece. You have deprived her peers of a classmate and friend. You have deprived her community of a sense of security and peace.

Her disappearance and death brought only misery to those who knew her best and loved her the most.

Moreover, this offence is deeply to disturbing to anyone who knows of it, because it is an unwelcome reminder that inhumanity still lurks in the psyche of some of those among us.

Those are the reasons why our law provides for the most severe penalty for this offence. It is to punish the offender and it is to condemn his actions in the most powerful way possible to affirm they are quite rightly regarded as nothing less than cruel and barbaric; in short, inhuman.

Note: Though a first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no parole for 25 years, Handlen is eligible to apply for parole in 15 years through the so-called faint hope clause because he killed Monica Jack before that law was eliminated.

With files from Jason Proctor, Tina Lovgreen and the Canadian Press