Col. Russell Williams is shown in a sketch as he addresses the court in Belleville, Ont., today. — Canadian Press
BELLEVILLE, Ont. — Col. Russell Williams is headed to Kingston Penitentiary to serve two concurrent life sentences for sadosexual crimes a judge says have no equal.
Williams says he will spend the rest of his life regretting his crimes, including the two murders he has committed, and adds he is “indescribably ashamed.”
The decorated commander of Canada’s largest air base cried as he addressed the court before sentencing on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of sexual assault and forcible confinement, and 82 fetish break and enters.
It was the first show of emotion from the colonel who has otherwise kept his head down in stoic silence despite a gruelling four days of vivid evidence of his gruesome sex crimes.
“I will spend the rest of my life regretting most of all that I have ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives,” Williams, 47, told the court.
Williams tortured, raped and murdered Marie-France Comeau, a 37-year-old military flight attendant under his command, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, who worked for a school bus company.
Justice Robert Scott said he believes Williams is sincere in his regrets, but nonetheless declared him a “sick and dangerous” man.
“Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer,” Scott told the court.
“The depths of the depravity shown by Russell Williams have no equal.”
Crown prosecutor Lee Burgess called Williams “one of the worst offenders in Canadian history.”
“We can all think of a handful of names and everybody knows those names, and he’s now on that list,” he said outside court.
As Williams was en route to the penitentiary that houses notorious sex killer Paul Bernardo, the military wasted no time in declaring he’ll be removed from the Canadian Forces.
Williams will also be stripped of his medals.
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, chief of the air staff, said like all Canadians the military is stunned by Williams’ crimes.
Standing on the tarmac of CFB Trenton, the military base Williams commanded until his arrest just eight months ago, Deschamps says the military has no power to revoke his pension.
“Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killert. The depths of the depravity shown by Russell Williams have no equal.” Justice Robert Scott
The case rocked the military to its core, and Deschamps said “we still don’t understand the why, and this is something that troubles Canadians at large.”
“We certainly would like to understand if possible. We’d like to learn from this tragedy.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Canadian Forces will do what it can to strip benefits from Williams.
“I know Defence Minister (Peter) MacKay has made clear the Forces will undertake all necessary actions to ensure that all sanctions possible and all benefits possible that can be withdrawn will be withdrawn from the former commander,” Harper said after a military funding announcement in St. John’s.
Deschamps said while it is powerless to remove his pension, it will act on its power to ensure Williams does not collect a salary for the time he has spent in jail.
The military will claw back the reported $12,000-a-month salary Williams has collected since February.
Harper said all members of the Canadian Forces have been “very badly wounded and betrayed by all of this.”
And Deschamps said no one saw it coming. He said there was no way for the military to have known they had a killer in their midst.
The judge said Williams lived a charmed life before turning to crime in his 40s and noted that his “fall from grace has been swift and sure.”
The Crown won’t be seeking dangerous offender status because it is “superfluous” and would only prolong the suffering of families, Burgess said.
Dangerous offender status would mean he’d be jailed indefinitely.
Williams will still have to demonstrate he is not a danger to the public to get parole.
The Crown wants to seize the sex killer’s Nissan Pathfinder and crush it. Police traced the killer through tire marks left by his Pathfinder found in a field near a house belonging to one of his murder victims.