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Father jailed three years for aiding son after 2011 murder of B.C. teen

A memorial of photographs, flowers, stuffed animals and candles on April 5, 2012, at the railway crossing in Armstrong, B.C., where Taylor Van Diest was killed.

Jeff Bassett/The Globe and Mail

The father of a man convicted of first-degree murder has been sentenced in a B.C. court to three years in prison for helping his son evade police, but the victim's mother says that's just not enough time behind bars.

Stephen Foerster, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to being an accessory after the fact in the murder of 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest on Halloween night 2011.

Matthew Foerster was sentenced last month to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for killing the young woman, who was found near death along some train tracks in Armstrong.

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The elder Foerster will now spend 759 days, or just over two years, in prison because of 336 days' credit for time already served.

Marie Van Diest, Taylor's mother, commented on the sentence outside B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna.

"I think they're both cowards, they're both deviants and neither one of them have a place in society," she said.

"I'm glad Stephen will be out of society for a while but it makes me shudder to think that he will, you know, be released one day soon."

Defence lawyer Joe Deuling said Stephen Foerster has admitted his wrongdoing and the law guides judges in sentencing.

"In the Van Diest position, of course I think it would be not enough. What's enough, right? But that's not what we're guided by," Deuling said.

"We're guided by the principles of the criminal law, and courts are bound by that."

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The court heard that between November 2011 and January 2012, Foerster quit his job as a truck driver, collected his son's belongings from a rental apartment and lied to police.

Foerster paid $500 for a driver's licence, social insurance number card and an old bank card he gave to his son, the Crown said.

The son of Foerster's friends in Ontario agreed to sell the identification, court heard.

The Crown said Foerster told police that Matthew Foerster was working on oil rigs up north, though the 28-year-old man was in Ontario.

Court heard that during calls on prepaid cellphones, Foerster told his son to get rid of the purchased identification, to switch around social insurance number digits when applying for jobs in Ontario and that he would try to get him new identification.

Between March 25, 2012, and April 3, 2012, police intercepted three calls and heard Foerster tell his son not to call him at home anymore and to lay low because it was "hotter than a firecracker" due to police surveillance.

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After his arrest, Stephen Foerster told an undercover officer in his jail cell that he'd found a tracking device on his vehicle, court heard.

Foerster said he knew what he'd done was wrong but that he would have taken the fall for his son.

"I felt it was really, really pathetic," said Marie Van Diest. "I think the thing he was sorry for was the fact that he couldn't go forward with trial. It just would have cost him too much, and I think that's why he decided to plead the way he did."

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