Saturday, May 29, 2010

Edmonton, AB killer sentenced to 17 to life declared dangerous offender by Canadian court

(Original Post 6-19-08)
A convicted killer with a history of violence against women was sentenced to 17 years in prison Monday for killing 36 year old Theresa Innes, whose body was found in a hockey bag in a home NE of Edmonton, AB in May 2006. He was found guilty of committing an indignity to a dead body for storing it in the freezer for 5 months before dumping it. Thomas Svekla, 40, was formally sentenced for 2nd degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence with a parole period between 10 and 25 years. (1st degree murder carries 25 to life).

The Crown (Canadian federal prosecutors) asked for that maximum sentence for Svekla because of his history of violence against women and the degradation of Innes’ body.

An example of his violence against women includes Svekla’s alleged attack on a High Level, Ab woman in the summer of 2005. He’ll go to trial later this summer for sexual assault and uttering threats.

The woman, who can't be identified, testified at Svekla's trial in Edmonton. She told the court Svekla attacked her and threatened to kill her after they shared a six-pack of beer and went back to his apartment.

Innes’ family testified at the sentencing how there was a hole left by her killing.

Outside court, the Innes family expressed satisfaction with the sentence. They also thanked Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson for his dedication to the case. But it will never take the place of the "hole in her heart," said Beverly Innes, Theresa's mother. Earlier in the day the court heard an emotional statement from Innes's son, Mike, who called his mother a "kind and caring person" who had her "up and downs."

"She never missed calling every weekend, on birthdays and Christmas. I remember her laughs and her jokes," Mike Innes told the court.

Svekla's actions have changed all that, he said, his eyes welling up with tears.

"She was not there to see me graduate, she won't be there to see me get married.… Those dreams were taken from me."

The defense attorney for Svekla, Robert Shaigec, conceded his client’s lack of remorse, but still asked for a non-parole period of only 15 years. Justice Sterling Sanderman of the Court of Queen's Bench presided over the four month long trial and the day long sentencing hearing.

Svekla was the first person tried under Project Kare, which is a joint RCMP/Edmonton task force which is probing the murders and disappearances of over 20 women in “high risk” lifestyles over the past 25 years.

(Update 5-29-10) Svekla was declared a dangerous offender Thursday, May 27 in a hearing presided over by Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Judge Christine Eidsvik. She said that a psychiatric report prepared by Canadian officials presented him as a sexual psychopath with a high risk of reoffending. Judge Eidsvik said that Svelka has a "pathology for which there is no cure...It is remarkable the number of people he has injured and harmed."

Besides killing Innes, Svekla was convicted of raping and threatening another woman in September 2008, and sexually assaulting a 5 year old girl back in 1995. Because of this history, Crown Prosecutor Ashley Finlayson said the judge's decision was the right one. "In our opinion, Mr. Svekla was a person with a history of violence against women, and based on the evidence that we had and which we called in court, it was our view he would not have been manageable in the community had he been released."

Kathy King, an advocate for sex-trade workers, said she was relieved with Svekla's designation. [Her] 22-year-old daughter, Caralyn, disappeared from the streets of Edmonton in 1997. Her body was found in a canola field in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton, in September of that year."I am relieved that whatever happens with the appeal, he will not be out on the streets, because I really truly believe that the women of Edmonton deserve protection from that man," King said.

King said she would still like to know whether Svekla is responsible for her daughter's death.

Dangerous offenders must be held indefinitely until they can prove that they are no longer a unmanageable threat to society. According to Corrections Canada, there are 415 such offenders as of May 27, 2010.

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