Defence lawyer James Miglin, left to right, Justice John McMahon, court registrar, Bruce McArthur, Crown Attorney Michael Cantlon, Detective Hank Idsinga, and friends and family of victims, back right, are shown in this court sketch in Toronto on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Loved ones of Bruce McArthur’s victims say they are shattered by his crimes
TORONTO — One by one, the loved ones of men murdered by Bruce McArthur walked to the front of a crowded courtroom and spoke of the devastation, anger and personal struggles they experienced as a result of the serial killer’s crimes.
Their often emotional victim impact statements were presented Tuesday at a sentencing hearing for 67-year-old McArthur, who pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder last week.
Court heard that many of McArthur’s victims were immigrants and of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent. Some lived parts of their life in secret because of their sexual orientation and all of them had ties to the city’s LGBTQ community.
A friend of Kirushna Kanagaratnam, who was murdered in January 2016, said he and Kanagaratnam came to the country aboard the MV Sun Sea after fleeing Sri Lanka in 2010. They sought refuge in Canada but Kanagaratnam was denied refugee status a few months before he went missing.
“Torture and murders like these are incidents that occur all too frequently in Sri Lanka,” said Piranavan Thangavel. “For us now to hear of such a horrible death, we who live in this world as refugees feel like there is no safety for us anywhere in the world.”
Police arrested McArthur in January 2018 and charged him for the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. They later charged McArthur for the murders of Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kanagaratnam.
McArthur sat motionless in the prisoner’s box, just as he did Monday when court heard details about how he killed his victims and dismembered their bodies between 2010 and 2017.
Mahmudi’s wife, Umme Fareena Mazook, had a Crown attorney read out her statement while she sobbed in court.
Court heard that Mazok reported her husband missing on Aug. 22, 2015. She found out on Jan. 25, 2018 from police that Mahmudi had been murdered by McArthur.
“The severe degree of my emotional distress had a major impact on my relationship with my son and my friends as my emotional and mental health changed drastically,” she wrote in her statement.
Mazook said she had to leave her job due to the psychological trauma resulting from her husband’s disappearance and struggled financially, with little money left after paying rent to afford food.
Kareema Faizi, said she too struggled after her husband’s disappearance. Court heard he was last seen at a bath house in the city’s gay village on Dec. 29, 2010.
Court heard that she works 18 hours a day to provide for her two daughters, who were six and 10 years old when her husband vanished.
“My daughters suffer terribly knowing what happened to their father,” she wrote. “They pretend to be strong in front of me. But when they are alone in their room, they take a picture of their father with them. I hear them crying constantly.
Richard Kikot, a friend of Esen’s, said his buddy had lived for a period of time on the streets but had been taking steps to improve his mental health by enrolling in a peer training program where he learned more about poverty and homelessness and the related challenges.
“Selim shared with me that he would often spend nights walking the streets of the city,” Kikot said. “Not aimlessly but purposely. He was a romantic. He believed in the power of love.”
Esen was murdered on April 16, 2017.
The Crown is seeking a life sentence for McArthur with no parole for 50 years.
Crown attorney Michael Cantlon previously told the court McArthur took photographs of his victims’ bodies posed in various states of undress and kept the images on his computer, accessing some of them long after his crimes.
McArthur would then dismember his victims and dump their remains in planters around a residential property in midtown Toronto, where he stored his landscaping equipment, or in a ravine behind the home.
Toronto police have faced criticism for how they investigated the eight men’s disappearances, with some saying the force ignored the LGTBQ community’s concerns about a possible serial killer.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press