TORONTO – For those investigators who had been assigned to Bruce McArthur to account for each of his crimes, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam was the unknown man, the only one whose face they could not place and whose name they were desperate to learn – desperately late March to publish a cropped image of him appealing to the masses to give him an identity in death. Soon they were found in plastic bags inside a plant pot that was an answer.
To McArthur, Kanagaratnam was a corpse without identity: Victims 5, who were mentioned as such in a digital folder, where he kept naked pictures of the man, a line over his neck, closed his eyes as he lay on his murderer's bed. They are symbolic of the images that McArthur took and rescued by other men he murdered.
To Piranavan Thangavel, Kanagaratnam was a friend, one of 491 other asylum seekers who fled violence in Sri Lanka on the MV Sun Sea in the summer of 2010. They sailed for three months with hope in their hearts and landed in Canada full of "indescribable joy," said Thangavel on Tuesday in McArthur's doomsday for eight counts of first-degree murder.
Then Kanagaratnam disappeared, and eventually people who knew him disappeared, and now Thangavel lives with the powerless to believe that nowhere in the world is safe.
"This could really have been any of us or other refugees living in fear," Thangavel said.
This could really have been any of us
In Ontario's Superior Court of Justice on Tuesday, Crown asked lawyers that McArthur was sentenced to life in prison for a 50-year chance of murdering Kanagaratnam and seven other men – Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Skandaraj Navaratnam – in Toronto between 2010 and 2017.
All eight murder counts have a mandatory death sentence without parole for 25 years. The maximum penalty that Justice John McMahon could impose is 150 years of parole ineligibility, based on the number of counts (six) McArthur could be condemned to earn consecutively.
In the crown's condemnation, Deputy Attorney Craig Harper said the term "serial killer" is a tremendously inadequate characterization of McArthur, a 67-year-old former landscaper whose victims were mostly immigrants from Middle Eastern or South Asian descendants and members of Toronto's gay community.
"The assurance that McArthur will never leave prison is an appropriate result," Harper said. He claimed that only Robert Pickton is approaching McArthur's "murderous destruction" in the Canadian criminal history annals.
During his argument, Harper said the crown believes a "measured" penalty to make McArthur wait 50 years before he could ever apply for parole would suffice to achieve justice for McArthur's victims. Importantly, he added that it would satisfy three ruling concerns about murder: termination, deterrence, and retaliation.
Harper argued that Canada's legal system has never encountered a murderer like McArthur – a "sexual predator," said Harper, who in intimate moments exploited vulnerable individuals and violated the confidence of people he knew, such as Kayhan, Kinsman and Mahmudi, to kill them with no other motive than self-sufficiency.
McArthur, Harper said, continued to threaten the public until the day he was arrested: January 18, 2018, when Toronto police officers who watched McArthur saw him taking an Middle Eastern man in his apartment. Inside, the officers found the man naked and handcuffed to McArthur's bed.
"(McArthur) was caught," Harper said. "He didn't stop."
I have spoken to my advice and I will not say anything
McArthur's defense lawyer, James Miglin, admitted in his case that his client's crimes were "awful" and that McArthur's moral fame is "exceptionally high". But he called the crown's request for 50 years of parole-ineligibility "inappropriately hard," citing McArthur's age and the fact that McArthur, by guilty guilty, helped ensure that the case reached a faster solution than if it went to trial.
Instead, Miglin asked McMahon to set minimum requirements for minimum parole requirements in 25 years.
McArthur rejected the opportunity to speak in court on Tuesday and only say to McMahon at the end of Miglin's remarks that "I have spoken to my advice and I will not say anything."
The Court heard a total of 27 influences on Monday and Tuesday from family and friends to the victims and members of the LGBTQ members. In their testimony, the speakers portrayed the totality of the consequences of McArthur's crimes – the immense ways in which his actions continue to believe their lives on a daily basis.
They experience panic attacks. They physically wounded. They struggle to eat. They feel insecure and adrift, increasingly distrust of people in their neighborhood and in the wider world. They are angry, sad, stressed, sleepless. They have nightmares and awaken the sweat. Sometimes they find it hard to remember the man they knew and loved without linking these memories to pain and suffering.
One of the final statements the court heard on Tuesday came from Kirushnaveny Yasotharan, Kanagaratnam's sister, who, through a Crown lawyer, said she's been anxious, terribly angry, and seriously depressed since her brother disappeared. Her eyes water with tears as she tries to fall asleep. She has found herself on her three children who cannot understand the pregnancy of her trial.
Among her feelings is the feeling of revenge she feels toward McArthur, who sat motionless for the second straight day, when the impact statements were read aloud in sequence.
"I don't want to live in this world that became so terribly cruel," said Yasotharan.
The hearing resumes on Friday, when it is expected that McArthur will be sentenced.