The grieving mother of slain teen Laura Szendrei left Surrey Provincial Court and declared, “Delta is a lot safer.”
Moments earlier, the man who killed her daughter and rocked the foundations of a community was sentenced as an adult and given the maximum sentence of life in prison, with no eligibility of parole for seven years, for the brutal Sept. 25, 2010 murder at Mackie Park.
Justice Robin Baird’s decision Friday morning triggered a round of applause and emotional relief from a jam-packed courtroom full of family, friends and supporters of the young victim.
“It’s unfortunate my daughter had to be sacrificed, but Delta is a lot safer now,” said Rachel Szendrei, surrounded by flocking media, as she left the courthouse. “We miss you Laura, we miss you so much.”
Despite getting an adult sentence, an interim publication ban prevents the killer (days shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the murder) from being identified.
“Just so sorry for everything I’ve done and all the pain I’ve caused everybody,” he said when given an opportunity to address the court, seemingly accepting his fate.
His defense had asked Baird for a youth sentence that carried a maximum sentence of seven years, but the judge gave little consideration for what he believed would have been an insufficient punishment.
“Given my assessment of the totality of this evidence, the accused is an untreated, sexually motivated murderer … he lacks insight into his offending. He represents a high-risk to re-offend,” said Justice Baird. “The harm he caused the victim, her family, her friends and her community is devastating and permanent. A youth sentence would not constitute an appropriate punishment for a crime of this nature and magnitude.”
The accused pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
The judge said he went to Mackie Park that day with the intention of committing rape – having been involved in three escalating incidents against female joggers at Delta’s Burns Bog in the months prior.
“He planned to rape the first woman to come along,” said Baird.
Unfortunately that first person was “poor, young Laura Szendrei.”
The offender lured Szendrei into a wooded area of the park and tried to put a cable tie around her neck.
When she tried to escape, he beat the screaming 15-year-old repeatedly in the head with a metal pipe.
She died from her massive brain injuries in hospital.
“This is a tragic case obviously, there is never any happy outcome. The Szendrei family is very badly affected, the Delta community is very badly affected,” said Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephen and we’ve done our jobs and the Judge has done his.”
The matter isn’t quite over yet, though.
Lawyers in the case will be back in court in January to argue over lifting the publication ban.