Pembroke -- It was a “Dog Day Afternoon” for 75-year-old Bill Kirby of Arnprior after he was led away from the virtual prisoner’s box earlier this week and found himself sitting in a real prison cell after Justice Adriana Doyle sentenced him to 43 months for a series of crimes committed against two women. His prison sentence stemmed from his November 30, 2020 trial when he was found guilty of several crimes including sexual assault dating back almost 50 years.
His afternoon appearance came on the heels of a separate morning court appearance when he first sat in the prisoner’s box for his Pre-Sentencing Hearing in relation to his March 25, 2021 trial. Justice Martin James found him guilty of kidnapping a former romantic partner. He drove her to an isolated area and stabbed her in the stomach and the neck because she refused to rekindle their relationship.
His day started out bad and only got worse when it became apparent he may end up celebrating his 80th birthday behind bars. He is scheduled to return to court next month for his Sentencing Hearing. It is possible he could receive a five-year (60 months) prison term and coupled with his 43-month sentence imposed by Justice Doyle for the assault charges, he could be in prison for eight years.
Crimes Date Back 50 Years
The first sentence of 43 months was imposed by Justice Doyle earlier this week in which she called his criminal behaviour an extension of his documented behaviour of domestic violence and a total disregard for his victims and the long-term effects his actions had on them.
Despite Justice Doyle’s decision not to impose the Crown Attorney’s request for a four-and-a-half year sentence on the former hockey coach and community volunteer who helped establish the Arnprior Civitan Club, he continued his pattern of belligerent and contemptuous behaviour in the virtual courtroom.
While his defence council sought a lesser term of three years, he once again exhibited behaviour that did nothing to help his cause.
As he did throughout his 2020 trial, he once again refused to accept any responsibility for his actions and his contempt of common courtroom etiquette was on full display as he spent much of the time glaring menacingly at the video cameras during the virtual appearances.
When he attended his first trial on several assault charges, including sexual and physical assault, he often scoffed at both the victims and the judge and at times he verbally challenged assertions put forward by the Assistant-Crown Attorney Caitlin Downing up until his eventual finding of guilt on November 30 last year.
That trial provided a timeline of criminal behaviour against the two victims that occurred in the 1970s. Both women were romantically involved with the accused and along with a finding of guilt on the sexual assault charges, he was also found guilty of indecent assault, pointing a firearm, common assault and assault.
Due to the nature of his crimes being sexual in nature, his name will automatically be added to the National Sex Offenders Registry and he must provide a DNA sample. If he lives long enough to leave prison once he has served his sentences, he is prohibited from owning, being in possession of, or using firearms.
The only good news for Mr. Kirby was the mandatory reduction of his sentence based on time previously served in jail awaiting his first trial. Justice Doyle credited him with 71 days served based on the formula of 47 days incarceration at 1.5 days for each day served.
Contempt and Disdain For Victim
His morning Pre-Sentencing Hearing was very emotional for the victim, her family and others who watched the proceedings via video link. The facts of the March trial were read into the record before the Victim Impact Statement was read before the court.
When Mr. Kirby appeared before Justice James on March 25, he faced several charges, among the most serious being attempted murder. However, Justice James ruled he was guilty of kidnapping, aggravated assault and for issuing threats to cause death or bodily harm. However, he found him not guilty of attempted murder.
During that trial, Justice Martin said after Mr. Kirby stabbed his former lover, he appeared to realize what he had done and placed a 911 call from a remote area of a forest just outside of Arnprior. He said when Mr. Kirby, then 72, led the woman into the wooded area on September 13, 2018, he purposely took a knife with him that was far less effective in causing greater damage than the one he left behind in his vehicle.
“If the defendant truly intended to murder the victim then why did he not take the knife that would have been more effective?” he questioned during the virtual hearing. “I have serious doubts that this meets the threshold of acting beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the defendant called 911 after the victim started to lose consciousness because of the stab wound to her stomach and Mr. Kirby’s actions likely saved her life.”
Within the impact statement, the victim (who cannot be named due to a publication ban to protect her identity) outlined what her life has been like since she was originally stabbed and left for dead. Her words clearly portrayed her fear given the fact he was free on bail after Justice of the Peace Julie Lauzon granted his release. There were very few conditions despite the seriousness of the crime, and he resided less than five miles from the three women or their family and friends who may have been forced to come into contact with him. Victim advocates submitted written statements asking Justice Lauzon to deny bail since he originally left her for dead after he stabbed her in the stomach and neck.
The victim wrote that for more than two years she has been constantly looking over her shoulder and was terrified to live alone. Like so many female victims of crime and abuse, she resorted to wearing a panic button in case she came face-to-face with him since he was able to live in Arnprior over the objections of both the victim and the Crown Attorney’s Office.
“I sleep with a light on and I get worried when an unknown vehicle stops in front of my house,” the statement read.
The victim impact statement highlighted fears for security with the victim telling the court she didn’t want to be another statistic like the Borutski women. Ironically, one of Basil Borutski’s victims, Nathalie Warmerdam, also wore a panic button around her neck 24 hours a day and she slept with a shotgun under her mattress.
His contempt of both the victim and court orders was on display once again when he defied a non-communication order forbidding him to contact the victim.
Kirby directed the majority of his final statements to the victim, expressing his condolences for her parents passing and saying he was “very sorry that her neck is still sore…but we both know how that happened.”
His did not hold back his disdain and contempt for the justice system when he sarcastically said “I had a bad couple of years to and I have learned the way court works.”
As he has done throughout both trials and Pre-Sentencing Hearings, he showed absolutely no feeling of guilt or remorse for any of the victims and has refused to accept any responsibility for his actions.
Ms. Downing informed the court there was no documentation indicating he has undertaken counselling sessions or remedial steps towards rehabilitation to show the court he has begun to appreciate the seriousness of his crimes.
Because of the seriousness of the crime and his refusal to undertake any action indicating he has tried to make amends for his behaviour, the Crown is using the precedent of standard Canadian criminal law and requested a five-year sentence.
The defence argued for a lesser sentence of three years jail time.
Mr. Kirby will once again appear before Justice James on June 22 for his Sentencing Hearing. In the event COVID restrictions are lifted, the hearing will be open to the public at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke.
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader