Trevor George Meers was found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Rayna Johnson. A judge will now decide how many years he will face before being eligible for parole. (File ohoto)

Judge set to decide parole eligibility in ‘vicious’ Ladysmith spear murder

Rayna Johnson was stabbed to death with a spear by Trevor George Meers

Trevor George Meers had been living at Campers Corners RV Park in Ladysmith for six years when an argument erupted to the point of him grabbing a homemade spear topped with a kitchen knife and plunging it into Rayna Johnson a half a dozen times, killing her on the doorstep of her home.

In January, a jury deliberated for less than four hours before finding the 53-year-old guilty of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with at least a decade behind bars before being eligible for release.

Rayna Johnson, a single mother of two adult children, was pronounced dead on Feb. 3, 2015 at the RV park and campground just off the Trans-Canada Highway in the south end of town.

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The sentencing hearing continued on Thursday in a Duncan courtroom as Crown counsel Leah Fontaine and defence attorney Stephen Taylor made their submissions to Justice Devlin for parole ineligibility.

Fontaine put forward the Crown’s case for why Meers should serve at minimum of 15 years before being eligible for parole, referencing other violent stabbing deaths such a 2003 case in which Kelvin Purdy fatally stabbed his estranged wife 21 times at a Nanaimo bus stop.

Also convicted of second-degree murder, Purdy lost his appeal in 2012 to reduce his 19-year period of parole ineligibility.

The weapon Meers used in the attack was a 15-centimetre kitchen knife that was attached to the end of a four-foot-long pole. During the trial, the court heard that five of the stab wounds inflicted on the 55-year-old Johnson were as the deep as the blade while a sixth reached even further.

“The aggravating factors in this particular case of course were that this was a brutal and vicious attack on an elderly female who also had compromised health and that this happened in the sanctity at her home,” Fontaine said.

A RCMP criminal record check submitted by the Crown on Thursday showed Meers has 14 prior convictions for everything from failing to comply, possession of narcotics and possession of property obtained by a crime.

The convicted killer had previously disputed the above charges and so the Crown was forced to order the RCMP check. The last time Meers served time was in March 2005.

Taylor countered the presentation of his client’s criminal past by calling it “dated” and “the definition of petty crime.”

“His record should form a very small part of the assessment of his character,” he added.

In his submissions to the court, the defence attorney leaned heavily on a 2014 case involving a Richmond man accused of killing his wife on their two-year wedding anniversary using a cleaver by stabbing and slashing her close to 250 times.

In that case, the man had no prior criminal record and received 12 years without eligibility for parole.

Taylor said he felt that the maximum 10 years was instead better suited in this case and referenced his client’s remorse for the crime and resulting suffering inflicted on the Johnson’s family.

The court heard that Meers’s health has also been deteriorating over the past few weeks due to several ongoing ailments. He’s also recently lost vision in one of his eyes.

Meers suffers from cirrhosis of the liver, an enlarged gull bladder, arthritis, ulcers and hepatitis C which he contracted in 1980 from a blood transfusion.

“Mr. Meers has been in custody 37 months and he’s been in hospital for about 18 of those,” Taylor said.

“Prison time will be additionally difficult due to his ailments. I have no idea what will happen to him in a federal system. He’s at a very high risk of losing his leg and will have a prosthetic … he is in a wheelchair much of the time and when he can ambulate it’s with a walker. That will make time in prison harder than prison time normally is.”

The sentencing hearing continues Friday.

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