Judge to hand down murder sentence in Duncan Friday

Judge Keith Bracken will bring the high-profile case to an end Friday afternoon as he announces the sentence for William Gordon Robert Elliott, who has pleaded guilty to the murders of two Duncan women.

Bracken told a packed courtroom in the Supreme Court of B.C. in Duncan Thursday morning that he would take the rest of the day to consider everything put before him and would be back at 2 p.m. on June 13 for sentencing.

The court heard closing submissions June 12 as Scott Sheets and Renee Miller, speaking for the defence, attempted to again show Elliott as a young man with a troubled past who has attempted to make some reparations.

"He has provided a confession, expressed remorse, has participated with people in preparing reports. The articulation he uses in them will never be enough. There is no excuse for that but there is a partial explanation," Sheets said, adding that, after 15 years spent in a household where abuse and alcohol were combined, "it would be unreasonable to expect him to go through that untouched."

Repeating to Bracken some of the comments from Elliott’s aunt, Sheets said his history shows he was "unloved" and that the "neglect, abandonment and abuse" mostly went unseen but not unfelt by the young man.

The prosecuting team of Scott Van Alstine and Laura Ford, who are seeking the maximum sentence of 25 years before the possibility of parole, then spent some time trying to show Judge Bracken that the case law Sheets and Miller were using to justify asking for sentence of only 12-15 years was flawed and outdated.

Ford, in particular, asked Bracken to remember that the fact that Elliott is aboriginal should not preclude a judge from looking at other cases, saying that having aboriginal heritage was important but it was only one factor.

Van Alstine then went over the previously presented reports, highlighting certain aspects, finally reminding the judge that psychologists "sensed there was something Elliott had not connected with in treatment" and that using alcohol could be dangerous for him.

However, Van Alstine also noted that First Nations elder Bill Sylvester reported that, after initial defensiveness, Elliott had shown he could make progress if kept away from alcohol and drugs and was showing he could walk away from conflict.

Van Alstine said Cowichan Tribes’ justice coordinator Calvin Swustus had said it would be important for Elliott "to know we haven’t forgotten him."