A young man who viciously murdered two complete strangers in their South Vancouver home will serve 25 years in prison before he can apply for parole.
Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam, 27, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday for the September 2017 slayings of Dianna Mah-Jones and Richard Jones.
"Mr. Kam has committed two brutal and senseless murders which call out for very strong denunciation," Justice Laura Gerow said Tuesday as she handed down her sentence.
Kam was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder last month. Each of those convictions carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years, but the question before the court was whether those sentences should be served back to back or at the same time.
Gerow said the interests of justice are served by concurrent sentences, describing the possibility of serving 50 years without a chance of parole as "unduly long and harsh."
She described the crimes as "extremely disturbing" but said no evidence had been presented that suggests a longer sentence is necessary to protect the public. Gerow also noted that just because Kam is eligible for parole, that doesn't mean he will be granted parole.
'Devastating effects' on friends and family
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.
Mah-Jones was 65 years old and a respected occupational therapist. Jones, 68, was disabled and known as a kind and generous man.
Friends, family and members of the community submitted victim impact statements to the court.
"The victim impact statements all describe the devastating effects the deaths of Ms. Mah-Jones and Mr. Jones had on their friends and family," Gerow said Tuesday.
"Ms. Mah-Jones and Mr. Jones were a vital and active part of their friends' and family's lives and their deaths have left a gaping hole."
The judge said it was clear the murders have caused lasting emotional pain, as well as fears about personal safety for those who knew the couple.
"No sentence will ever restore them to you. The court extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Ms. Mah-Jones and Mr. Jones," Gerow said.
'Brutal and random' murders
Kam was raised in Hong Kong but moved to Canada to attend university in Alberta, the court heard. He moved to Vancouver in the spring of 2017 after he was unable to find a job.
"At the time he committed the murders, Mr. Kam was unemployed and being supported by his parents," Gerow said.
Kam was spending most of his time reading comics and playing video games, the court heard.
During the trial, Kam's lawyer had argued that he was in an altered state of mind where he believed he was inside a video game at the time of the murders, but that defence was rejected by the judge, who said it was clear the crimes were deliberate and planned.
On the night of the murders, Kam went out for dinner then returned home and packed a backpack with a penknife and hatchet that he bought at a nearby Canadian Tire two weeks before the attacks.
Kam ambushed Mah-Jones as she entered her home, slitting her throat in the living room before stabbing her husband multiple times and attacking him with a hatchet. He dragged the bodies into the bathroom, and left them in the shower with the water running.
"The brutal and random nature of the murders reflects on Mr. Kam's character," Gerow said. "He offered no explanation as to why he chose them as victims."
Kam testified that he felt no emotion after the killings. He spent two hours and 23 minutes inside the couple's house, taking his time after the murders to eat a peach, drink some milk and search through the victims' belongings before finally leaving.
Kam was arrested on Nov. 6, 2017, about six weeks after the murders.