October 06, 2015 - 5:25 PM
PENTICTON - A Penticton judged saved a man convicted of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder from one of the harshest sentenced meted out in years.
John Ike Koopmans was sentenced to three counts of life imprisonment today, Oct. 6 in the slaying of Keith Wharton and his girlfriend Rosemary Fox, but he won't have to serve those sentences in succession, he will serve them all at the same time with parole eligibility after 22 years.
The shootings took place on March 31, 2013 at Keith Wharton’s property located on Old Hedley Road near Princeton.
Madam Justice Miriam Maisonville opted not reach the high end of the sentence because the crimes, serious though they were, were still not as heinous as those presented by Crown Prosecutor Frank Dubenski during sentencing submissions, noting also in Koopmans' case, consecutive sentences were "inappropriate." Maisonville explained Bill C-48, legislation aimed at eliminating discounts for multiple murders and raising the range of sentencing, as "a discretionary section to be applied by a judge's discretion."
Under the terms of Bill 48, Dubenski was seeking two consecutive 15 year terms, with a concurrent life sentence for attempted murder, while defence lawyer Don Skogstad asked for 17 years less time already served.
Koopmans sat in the prisoners box stock-still, saying nothing throughout the proceedings, as he had through most of the trial.
Dubenski called the sentence “within the appropriate range” for the crimes following the hearing.
“It’s still a significant sentence - 20 years is a common number for parole eligibility,” he said.
Defence lawyer Skogstad said at a previous hearing his client planned to appeal the sentence.
The relief in the Penticton courtroom was palpable as the trial concluded. A number of Wharton family members hugged Dubenski, thanking him for the sentence as the hearing concluded.
Wharton family spokesperson Cheri Franklin, who is Keith Wharton’s sister, expressed the family’s great relief at seeing the trial concluded. She said she was hopeful the family could finally move on now the trial was over.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015