Canadian colonel gets life for sex attacks, murders

A Canadian judge branded Colonel Russell Williams a "sick and dangerous man".

Belleville: A Canadian judge imposed two life jail sentences on a top air force colonel, branding him a "sick and dangerous man" for a spree of murders, sexual assaults and burglaries.

Colonel Russell Williams, who once piloted a plane for the British royal family, broke down and sobbed as the two consecutive life terms were passed after he admitted killing two young women, and coldly videotaping their murders.

Police arrested Williams in February for the disappearance and death of 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd, who was last heard from in January.

He was later charged with the November 2009 murder of Marie-France Comeau, a female corporal under his command at the Trenton military base.

Williams was also charged with two home invasions in which women were confined and sexually assaulted, and 82 counts of burglary and attempted breaking-and-enter in the Ontario cities of Ottawa, Belleville and Tweed.

A stash of women`s undergarments taken by police from his Ottawa residence was linked to the burglaries near his home and job.

And hundreds of photographs and home-made videos of the sexual assaults and murders were found on his home computer.

Throughout the week, the court heard horrific evidence and Williams`s chilling confession to police of how he repeatedly raped Lloyd and Comeau over several hours before strangling one and taping the other`s mouth and nostrils closed to watch her suffocate.

Williams, 47, had commanded Canada`s busiest air force base, the 437 Squadron in Trenton, east of Toronto, for more than a year prior to his arrest.

Williams had only met Comeau once prior to her death. She was working as a flight attendant on a military flight. But as her boss, he knew her schedule and that she lived alone.

On the night of November 23, 2009, he left his office at the Trenton military base, parked outside her home, and broke in through a basement window and attacked her. They struggled. He beat her nearly unconscious with a flashlight, tied her up and covered all of the windows in the house.

She pleaded with him: "I don`t want to die. Leave me alone. I don`t want to die."

Afterwards, Williams washed her bed sheets and drove directly to Ottawa for a meeting with military brass.

He would later send a signed letter of condolence on behalf of the Canadian Forces to Comeau`s father -- a 45-year veteran of the military.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Scott described Williams as a "sick and dangerous man" as he handed down the most severe sentence available under Canadian law. Williams will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.

The former colonel apologised for the pain and suffering he caused, for "violating people`s intimate privacy" and betraying his family, friends and military colleagues.

Most of the break-ins occurred at night, and at least once while he wore his military uniform.

"Your Honour, I stand before you ashamed of the crimes I`ve committed," he said. "I deeply regret what I`ve done, and the harm I`ve caused with these despicable crimes."

Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Lee Burgess described the disgraced colonel as "one of the worst offenders in Canadian history”.

"As long as he dies in jail, I`m happy," said Andy Lloyd, the brother of one of Williams` victims.

Previously the married pilot flew the jet used to ferry Canada`s prime minister as well as the British royal family on a visit, and was in charge of Canada`s secretive Camp Mirage in Dubai.

"I guess we still don`t understand the why, and this is something that troubles Canadians at large as it troubles those who have known this individual," said Chief of the Air Staff Lieutenant-General Andre Deschamps.

"How could we have known? What could we have done differently? I`m not sure we`ll ever get answers to that," he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his condolences to the victims` families and to members of the military "who have been very badly wounded and betrayed" by this "horrific series of events”.

Bureau Report

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