The lawyer for a man who viciously murdered two complete strangers in their South Vancouver home asked a judge Thursday not to extinguish the only glimmer of hope his client has of leaving jail before he’s an old man.
Glen Orris insisted that Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam is not beyond rehabilitation.
He told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow that putting him behind bars without the possibility of parole for at least 50 years would remove any incentive the young man has to turn his life around.
“I simply ask that you not take that away from him,” Orris said as he wrapped up submissions at Kam’s sentencing hearing.
‘Stacking’ parole periods
Kam was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder last month in the September 2017 slayings of Dianna Mah-Jones and Richard Jones.
Each conviction carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years. The defence wants Kam to serve the time for each charge concurrently.
Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam testified at his trial for the 2017 murders of Richard Jones and Dianna Mah-Jones. He faces the possibility of life in prison without parole for at least 50 years. (Felicity Don)
But the Crown is asking Gerow to “stack” Kam’s parole ineligibility periods consecutively so that he would be locked away for the next five decades.
Kam was 25 when he followed Mah-Jones into the living room of her home and slit her throat before stabbing her husband multiple times and attacking him with a hatchet.
If the Crown prevails, he’ll be 75 before he gets before a parole board.
A life sentence, no matter what
The case left Orris with the task of comparing his client’s crimes to those of some of Canada’s most notorious killers: serial killer Robert Pickton; Justin Bourque, the Moncton man who killed three Mounties and wounded two others in 2014 and Alexandre Bissonette, who pleaded guilty to killing six men at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.
Pickton is serving life without parole for the possibility of 25 years, which was the maximum sentence a multiple murderer could receive before the introduction of federal parole “stacking” legislation in 2011.
Diana Mah-Jones, 65, and Richard Jones, 68, as they appeared in an image on their Airbnb listing. (Airbnb.ca)
Under the new rules, Bourque was denied parole for 75 years and Bissonette was told he wouldn’t be eligible for release for at least 40 years.
Orris said crimes which deserve a longer period of parole ineligibility in the past have involved elements like cannibalism, terrorism, sexual assault or torture.
He said he wasn’t trying to minimize the horror of Kam’s actions, but pointed out that his client had no criminal record and appeared baffled himself as to why he did what he did.
The defence lawyer said vengeance was not one of the principles of sentencing and that Kam would still be serving a life sentence no matter when he came up for parole.
“Twenty-five years from now, the parole board may consider Mr Kam, but he will have to come a long way to convince them that he should be paroled,” Orris said.
‘More violent and terrible’
Crown prosecutor Daniel Mulligan told Gerow that Kam’s crimes were egregious enough to warrant the longer parole ineligibility period.
“Some murders are more violent and terrible than others,” he said.
Mulligan also rejected the notion that Kam was somehow baffled as to why he committed the murders or that he hadn’t tortured at least one of his victims, slicing Jones multiple times with a small knife before killing him. Mulligan said Kam’s motive was clear.
“He wanted to experience killing someone,” the prosecutor said. “And he wanted to prolong and relish that experience.”
Gerow will hand down the sentence Tuesday.