A man who blamed his addiction to video games for killing a randomly chosen Vancouver couple has been sentenced to 25 years before being eligible for parole by a judge who rejected a Crown appeal for 50 years.
Justice Laura Gerow told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday that 25 years was sufficient because few multiple murderers are released on parole and, in any event, the parole board would not release Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam, now 27, unless it was safe to do so.
“Even if granted parole, Mr. Kam will be under the supervision of the parole board for life,” Justice Gerow said as Mr. Kam, in custody, looked on from a video monitor. Justice Gerow, hearing the case without a jury, previously convicted Mr. Kam of two counts of first-degree murder.
“It will be for the parole board to determine if [Mr. Kam’s] continued incarceration is required for the protection of the public and, if he is to be released, the conditions under which he will be released,” she said.
Legislation enacted in 2011 by the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper created the possibility of combining parole ineligibilities.
“While I am, by no means, minimizing the gravity of these murders, I am of the view that the objective of denunciation is met in this case by the imposition of a life sentence with 25 years’ parole ineligibility.”
The Crown had argued the vicious nature of the September, 2017, killings warranted a pair of consecutive 25-year sentences before Mr. Kam could seek parole.
But the judge disagreed. “Consecutive sentences are not necessary to satisfy the objectives of denunciation in all such cases.”
At trial, a psychologist testifying for the defence said Mr. Kam may have been in a “gaming consciousness” when he committed the crimes so he could not form intent. However, Justice Gerow noted there was no evidence that Mr. Kam suffered from mental disorders.
The sentencing hearing Tuesday concluded legal proceedings arising from a case that stunned the city. In September, 2017, Mr. Kam, who had recently arrived in B.C. after earning an economics degree in Alberta, went roaming a Vancouver neighbourhood, and invaded the home of Dianna Mah-Jones, 64, and her 68-year-old husband, Doug Jones.
Over 2 hours and 23 minutes in the residence, he attacked Ms. Mah-Jones and slit her throat with a knife and then, as Mr. Jones entered the house, attacked him with a knife and hatchet.
As Justice Gerow reminded the court Tuesday, Mr. Jones suffered more than 100 sharp-force injuries during the assault. Court heard that Mr. Kam left both bodies in a shower with the water running. Following the attack, he disposed of evidence before later being arrested.
She spoke of the “devastating effect” the loss of the couple has had on their friends and families. Of Ms. Mah-Jones, she said she was one of four sisters, remembered as a vibrant and fun-loving individual who contributed much to the community as an occupational therapist, volunteer and member of a dance group. Mr. Jones, said the judge, was a warm, kind and generous man.
Family, friends and even Ms. Mah-Jones’s dance group have been dealing with loss, but also worried about their safety as a result of the murders, said Justice Gerow. She noted the murders occurred just after a dance practice.
“The murders of two people in their home impacted the sense of safety and security for the community at large.”
Mr. Kam’s motive remains unclear. Justice Gerow noted she was not provided with any pre-sentence report or psychiatric report to help her.
Of the judge’s ruling on parole ineligibility, Crown counsel Daniel Mulligan said outside the court, “It’s not the result we were hoping for, but it’s clear that Madam Justice Gerow carefully considered the law and the circumstances, and the important thing to remember is that Mr. Kam has been sentenced to life in jail with no parole for 25 years.”
Given time served, it will be 2042 before Mr. Kam can seek parole, Mr. Mulligan noted. “As Madam Justice Gerow pointed out, there’s no guarantee he will get parole.”
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