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 homemade spear and plunging it into Rayna Johnson a half a dozen times, killing her on the doorstep of her home.
On Friday, the 53-year-old was sentenced in a Duncan courtroom to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 10 years after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in January.
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.
“I’m deeply regretful that this whole thing has happened and I just sometimes, I have a problem having it all sink in,” said Meers, addressing the court last week. “I just wish it would have never happened.”
The weapon Meers used in the attack was a 15 cm kitchen knife that was attached to the end of 1.5 metre long wooden shaft. During the trial, the court heard that five of the stab wounds inflicted on the 55-year-old Johnson were as deep as the blade itself while a sixth reached even further.
In rendering her decision, Justice Devlin said the issue at trial was intent.
“The number and degree of wounds inflicted on Ms. Johnson would have required a significant force to penetrate the colon and stomach,”she said. “Based on all the circumstances of this case I find that Mr. Meers intended to cause bodily harm to Mr. Johnson that he knew was likely to cause her death and was reckless about whether death ensued or not.”
During the trial, the jury heard that Meers had returned to his trailer following the fatal stabbing, consumed two beers and made a distressed call to 9-1-1 before leaving Campers Corners with a friend.
He then returned sometime later and was arrested by Ladysmith RCMP without incident.
Meers testified at trial that he didn’t know there was a blade attached to the end of the spear until Johnson called out that she was bleeding.
A pathologist’s report found that the cause of death was the multiple stab wounds combined with pre-existing heart disease.
The jury deliberated for four hours before rendering its guilty verdict in early January, with nine out of the 12 jurors recommending Meers be locked up for 20 years without eligibility for parole.
A pre-sentence report detailing Meers’ health history as well as an RCMP criminal record was then ordered delaying the continuation of the sentencing hearing until last week.
Justice Devlin said she considered the input of the jury while also focusing on the character of the offender, nature of the offence and the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case to arrive at the 10 years without parole – the minimum for a second-degree murder conviction.
“Mr. Meers has expressed remorse throughout this trial and again this morning,” Devlin said. “I am satisfied that Mr. Meers has good prospects for rehabilitation.”
A day earlier on Thursday, Crown counsel Leah Fontaine had argued for 15 years without parole while defense attorney Stephen Taylor submitted that the minimum 10 years was fitting for his client.
The 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 last time Meers served time was in March 2005 and he had no prior history of violence.
Taylor said his client’s criminal past by calling it “dated” and “the definition of petty crime.”
The court heard that Meers’ health has also been deteriorating over the past few weeks due to several ongoing ailments. He’s also recently lost vision in his right eye.
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.”