Garnier to serve at least 13.5 years in prison, judge rules
The possible range for Garnier to apply for parole was 10 to 25 years
A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice ruled Tuesday on how much time Christopher Garnier must serve in prison before he can begin applying for parole.
Justice Josh Arnold said Garnier must spend a minimum of 13.5 years behind bars, less credit for the 699 days he has already served.
Garnier, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Catherine Campbell in Sept., 2015. The range under consideration for Garnier's parole ineligibility was 10 to 25 years.
Campbell's body lay undiscovered on a wooded slope under Halifax's Angus L. Macdonald Bridge for days after she was killed.
Garnier had placed her body in a green compost bin and wheeled it through the city streets before dumping her under the bridge. For those actions, he was also convicted for improperly interfering with human remains and sentenced to serve four years concurrently with the murder sentence.
On Monday, lawyers made their arguments for Garnier's parole ineligibility, or prison term.
Defence seeks minimum term
The defence said Garnier should only serve the minimum term of 10 years. The Crown countered that the murder and post-offence conduct warrants a prison term of 16 years.
In addition to those legal arguments, Arnold also considered victim impact statements from Campbell's family and friends.
A total of eight statements were presented to court on Monday.
The first of those statements was from Campbell's mother, Susan, who was accompanied to the front of the courtroom by her husband, Dwight. He stood clutching a photo of his murdered daughter.
Joel Pink, Garnier's lawyer, initially objected to the photo display until Garnier said it was all right.
"How can you put into words or explain how our life is forever changed by the death of our child?" Susan Campbell asked.
Family members upset by aftermath of Campbell's death
"You cannot even imagine unless you have been there yourself; the disbelief, the heartache, the emptiness, sorrow, nightmares, tears and the sense of loss consume you."
Family members seemed as upset by what happened to Campbell after her death as they were by the murder itself.
"You close your eyes and you see your child lying all alone outside, her body being [ravaged] by the elements," Susan Campbell said.
Amanda Wong, Campbell's aunt, voiced a similar concern.
"I work in a medico-legal environment where I am very aware of what happens to the human body, over days, in the elements and the heat," Wong said. "There is a hole in my heart.
"Sometimes I smile thinking of Catherine. Other times I cry."
Campbell's sister, Amy Garneau, talked of the impact on her children.
'It breaks my heart'
"There have been numerous times when my daughter, Autumn, doesn't want to go places because she is afraid that the bad man who hurt her Aunt Catherine might get her," Garneau wrote.
"It breaks my heart."
Hillary Daigle, a former colleague of Catherine Campbell, told court that she couldn't cope after the murder.
She quit her job with the Truro police force and moved back to her native New Brunswick. Daigle said even when she moved away, she became withdrawn and didn't want to be alone.
Another common theme in the statements is that Campbell's family and friends are not ready to forgive Garnier.
Justice Arnold was not bound by the recommendations from lawyers or the pleas in the victim impact statements.