Saying that Davey Butorac poses “a real danger to the safety of the community,” a B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced the Langley man to life in prison with no chance of parole for 23 years on Thursday afternoon in New Westminster.
In making the ruling, the judge did not accept the prosecution argument that Butorac was as bad as notorious serial killer Willie Pickton.
Earlier Thursday, Crown prosecutor Chris McPherson argued the only real difference between the 32-year-old Langley resident and Canada’s most prolific serial killer is that Butorac was convicted of killing two vulnerable women, whereas Pickton was convicted of murdering six, with the Crown choosing not to proceed against the Port Coquitlam pig farmer on numerous other murder charges.
Butorac should get the same sentence, McPherson said, the maximum possible of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Butorac’s defence lawyer Richard Fowler pressed for a slightly shorter period of 20 to 22 years before his client would be eligible for supervised release from prison.
Butorac was convicted last year of second degree murder for inflicting a brutal bludgeoning before strangling to death 46-year-old Gwendolyn Jo Lawton in March of 2007 in Abbotsford.
He was also convicted at the same trial of second degree murder in the July 2007 beating death of 50-year-old Sheryl Lynn Koroll in Langley.
As the judge read the decision, Butorac kept turning to look over his shoulder at his parents, who were sitting behind him in the courtroom.
The judge said that while Butorac did not exhibit the same degree of depravity as Pickton did, he was very close to being the very worst kind of offender who committed the worst kind of offence.
Butorac is still facing a trial on a third murder charge. He is accused of the murder of Margaret Redford, 47, of Aldergrove. Her body was found in Bertrand Creek in Aldergrove on May 20, 2006. At the time, Butorac was living with his father in a townhouse complex a short distance away.
The families of both Lawton and Koroll filed impact statements with the court at the Thursday sentencing hearing in New Westminster.
Lawton’s mother, Irene Reitz, was the only one to read hers aloud in court.
“You’ve taken away the love of my life,” she told Butorac, her back turned to the convicted killer as she addressed Justice Elizabeth Arnold-Bailey.
She still says good night to her daughter every evening, Reitz added, saying the murder of Gwendolyn “tore a hole in my heart and life”
In his written statement, Lawton’s son Kyle said he has become almost completely numb since the death of his mother, only feeling flashes of anger.
Koroll’s parents, John and Sophie Okrainetz, recounted how their troubled daughter still helped her father look after her paraplegic mother by shopping and doing errands.
Sophie Okrainetz described her daughter’s manner of death as something “even an animal doesn’t deserve.”
Okrainetz said the last words she ever heard from her daughter were “I love you, mom” as Koroll left the house the evening she was murdered.
Like the Pickton victims, both women were vulnerable sex trade workers forced onto the street by drug problems, the prosecutor said. They were physically small women, barely over 100 lbs. each.
There was nothing in Butorac’s background, no abuse or drug issues that might explain the degree of rage and violence he displayed in killing the two women, McPherson added.
“Like Pickton, this man is a killer of multiple women,” McPherson said.
“We don’t know why. But this much is clear, in the Crown’s submission. He is extremely dangerous.”
Defence lawyer Fowler said it was “perhaps misguided” to rank Butorac with Pickton.
Fowler said handing out a maximum sentence on two counts of second degree murder would amount to “watering down” the use of the highest penalty to denounce more serious crimes such as the Pickton case.
Letters of support were filed on Butorac’s behalf by his family, including his parents and siblings.
They all described Butorac as someone who was kind to animals, a good listener and a caring person.
Mother Joyce Butorac wrote that her son was a “loving child” who was well-liked and thoughtful.