Life in prison without parole for 25 years for Penticton man who shot, killed four people | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Life in prison without parole for 25 years for Penticton man who shot, killed four people

John Brittain was sentenced in Kelowna court this afternoon.
Image Credit: The Canadian Press / Amy Smart
October 15, 2020 - 4:36 PM

John Brittain will spend a life sentence behind bars, with no prospect of parole until he is 92 years old.

Justice Alison Beames delivered her decision in Kelowna court this afternoon, Oct. 15, following a sentencing hearing for Brittain, who entered guilty pleas on three counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder earlier this week.

The shootings took place on April 15, 2019, in a 45 minute killing spree, following an ongoing dispute between Brittain’s ex-wife Kathy, and several of her neighbours.

Crown prosecutor Colin Forsyth was seeking consecutive life sentences for the three counts of first degree murder and a consecutive sentence of 15 years for the second degree murder charges, that would make Brittain ineligible for parole for 40 years.

Defence lawyer Paul McMurray sought concurrent sentences that would see Brittain eligible for parole after 25 years.

Justice Beames said the only issues in sentencing related to parole and when Brittain might be able to apply.

She ruled a 40-year period of parole ineligibility would be unduly long and harsh, given Brittain’s age at 69.

“In taking a total period of parole ineligibility of 40 years, which would almost certainly exceed Mr. Brittain’s life expectancy, and if not I know he would be 107 years old… a life sentence without ability to apply for parole before age 92, and without any assurance parole would be granted even if applied for, in my view meets the objectives of deterrence, denunciation and retribution,” the judge said.

Brittain received three life sentences on three counts of first degree murder and a life sentence for second degree murder, all concurrent.

Judge Beames called the crimes ‘horrific’ noting the execution style of the murders, with more than one shot fired at each victim.

“The method of the killings was an exceptionally aggravating factor, so too is the fact that three of the four victims were killed in their own homes, where they were entitled to feel safe and should have been,” she said.

She called the crimes senseless and incomprehensible, stemming from relatively petty neighbourhood grievances.

Yesterday, Crown prosecutor Colin Forsyth said Brittain shot and killed the four people who were all, in one form or another, part of various neighbourhood disputes. He said he thought his ex-wife was being "bullied." He told police when he saw one of his neighbours, Rudi Winter, he grabbed a rifle, loaded it, walked across the street and shot him five times.

Then Brittain drove to a nearby Bank of Montreal, withdrew some cash and drove to Cornwall Drive where Barry and Susan Wonch lived. He found them in their garage and shot them multiple times from six feet away.

Brittain walked down their driveway to the home of neighbour Darlene Knippelberg. He knocked, and when she answered he shot her twice before driving to the Penticton RCMP detachment and turning himself in.

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