Saskatoon

Alistair Stewart sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 14 years in murder of John McPherson

Alistair Stewart, 37, has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 14 years for the 2017 murder of 60-year-old John McPherson.

Stewart pleaded guilty to second-degree murder at Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench earlier this week

Police say John McPherson died in the building at 118 Cope Cres. on Dec. 31, 2017. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Alistair Stewart, 37, has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 14 years for the 2017 murder of 60-year-old John McPherson.

Alistair Stewart pleaded guilty to second-degree murder at Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench earlier this week. Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, but parole eligibility may be set at between 10 and 25 years.

The two men met online after McPherson posted an ad to Craigslist offering room and board in exchange for companionship. Stewart, who was said to be homeless at the time, responded to the ad and started living in McPherson's Stonebridge apartment. 

However, on Dec. 31, 2017, Stewart said he wanted to end the relationship, telling McPherson he was going to rob him.

McPherson fought back, at which time Stewart tripped him and tied him with electrical cords from several nearby appliances, including a lamp and an alarm clock.

Earlier this week, court heard how Stewart told McPherson he would call the cops, but later admitted that he had no intention of doing so. He took with him a bottle of vodka, a rifle, which he would later sell, and groceries.

Police would find McPherson on Jan. 7, 2018, while doing a welfare check. Stewart was taken into custody and charged on Jan. 25. 

"It's such a senseless tragedy," Crown prosecutor Sheryl Fillo said Friday.

In a confession cited in court, Stewart said that McPherson was still breathing when he left the apartment. Photos of the crime scene show McPherson tied with several mismatched cords, intertwining in a tight formation around his body, hands, legs and neck.

Alistair Stewart was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder earlier this week in the 2017 death of John McPherson. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

Stewart was also charged with unlawful confinement and robbery, but those charges were stayed after he pleaded guilty to the murder charge. 
 
The death has been hard on McPherson's family. 

McPherson's family, who called him Jackie, now leaves an empty seat at their table, because he would always meet with family members for holidays, a victim impact statement from his cousin said.

"To this day, we have a hard time understanding why, as Jackie was no threat to anyone," said the statement, which is included in the case's file. 

"A person could steal or whatever, Jackie was not a fighter. Like we said, he [was a] shell of a man who was lonely and wanted to make friends and meet people like he was and for acceptance."

The statement said McPherson was "well liked and loved by many people whose lives he touched." 

On top of the prison sentence, Stewart will also have to submit a DNA sample and is banned from owning restricted weapons for life. 

He's also prohibited from having access to legal firearms for 10 years after he has been released from custody.

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