NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – A British Columbia man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 17 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Raymond Caissie was sentenced Friday in B.C. Supreme Court for the September 2014 slaying of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch.
Her body was found along railway tracks in Surrey, B.C., a day after she was reported missing.
Both the Crown attorney and Caissie’s defence lawyer, Troy Anderson, had recommended the 17-year term at an earlier sentencing hearing.
Anderson said outside the court on Friday that Caissie’s guilty plea was the strongest indication of remorse that a person can have.
Caissie had been released from prison just a year earlier. The RCMP issued a warning about his release, calling him a “high-risk sexual and violent offender.”
He had served his entire 22 year sentence for a violent 1991 sexual assault and kidnapping, and parole documents said board members believed he was likely to commit another offence causing death or serious harm.
Eight years of parole board documents were released after the charges were laid in Vermeersch’s death.
Caissie spoke openly about his fear of returning to society and how he was more comfortable within a highly structured prison environment, the parole board said in a 2010 decision.
“You spoke of how you do not have the skills to live on your own, which you have never done, and how you cannot even shop for the basic necessities of life. You stated you were afraid of being returned to prison, if released, because you could not cope with the stress of living in society.”
He later denied making those statements to a psychologist.
The board said that prior to his release from prison on March 31, 2013, Caissie had spent most of his adult life in prison.
He had a “persistent pattern of sexually inappropriate and violent behaviour, both in the community and within the institutional setting” the board noted in his last detention review three months before his release. Caissie refused to participate in the hearing.
The documents show a prison record of repeated violations, including his participation in a plot to assault a staff member.
The parole board members found at seven hearings that Caissie was likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person.
He was serving a sentence for the sexual assault and kidnapping of a young woman taken from a museum in Abbotsford, B.C. Caissie left her tied to a tree in the woods.
Caissie’s case led to a debate about the release of offenders into the community. Former justice minister Peter MacKay raised the possibility of monitoring dangerous offenders or making changes to parole eligibility.
Under section 810 of the Criminal Code, a court can order supervision of a high-risk offender who poses a threat to the public after completion of their sentence.
Caissie was under such an order and faced more than a dozen conditions.
(News1130, The Canadian Press)