London News & Search
Ontario’s top court has upheld an adult sentence levelled against an Owen Sound man who murdered a Petrolia senior when he was a teen.
Christopher Ellacott, 49, was sentenced as an adult in 2013 under the Youth Criminal Justice Act to the maximum sentence of life with no chance of parole for seven years after a six-week trial.
Ellacott was 15 when he brutally murdered and raped Velma Thomson, 70, a small, frail senior citizen who was found dead in her home that had once been her hair styling salon, in October 1983.
Thomson was Ellacott’s neighbour. She was found stabbed several times in the heart, partially nude and in a pool of blood. Her jugular vein had been cut and there was evidence of a sexual assault.
The crime was unsolved for almost three decades and for years, the only evidence police had to follow was a thumbprint found at the gruesome murder scene.
That was matched to Ellacott, who was married with two children and working as a chiropodist in the Owen Sound area at the time of his arrest. Ellacott’s fingerprints were taken by Toronto police following a college graduation celebration in 2008 when he was arrested for dancing on a car.
He was given a discharge for damaging a vehicle but his fingerprints remained on file.
His DNA was matched semen found at the crime scene and the chances of the genetic material belonging to someone else was one in 15 quadrillion.
Ellacott, who had done odd jobs for Thomson, maintained his innocence. He testified he had moved a cardboard box into the house for the victim in the days before the murder.
He maintained that the DNA wasn’t his.
Ellacott had abandoned his conviction appeal by the time it was heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in April, but appealed his sentence. Had he been sentenced as a youth, he would have received six years in prison without a lifetime supervision order.
In a decision released Tuesday, the court said Ellacott was properly sentenced even though the judge, Superior Court Justice John Desotti, had erred when he used Ellacott’s testimony and his denial of guilty as aggravating factors in his decision.
“The enormity of the appellant’s crime renders a youth sentence manifestly inadequate to hold this appellant accountable,” the court said.
Desotti had called Ellacott’s explanation “a lame and cobbled contrivance” and referred to Ellacott as “quite sinister.”
“He will do and say anything to avoid the conclusion that he committed this atrocious and violent act,” Desotti wrote in his decision.
The appeal court said that while the case was overwhelming against Ellacott, he had the right “to make full answer and defence” and was entitled to deny the crime.
But Desotti’s error “had no impact,” the appeal court said, given “the gruesome crime.”
Two other grounds of appeal were denied.
London News & Search