Serial killer Shawn Cameron Lamb, 54, has been sentenced to 20 years for killing two vulnerable city women while in the fog of a months-long drug binge.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rick Saull endorsed a deal reached between prosecutors and Lamb's lawyers that would see him serve at least another nine years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole. The judge recommended Lamb serve his time outside the Prairie region.
Lamb pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter in connection to the deaths of Carolyn Sinclair, 25, on Dec. 18, 2011 and Lorna Blacksmith, 18, on Jan. 11, 2012.
Both women had been declared missing by their families around the time they died.
The entire case against Lamb for the killings — police had alleged he murdered them — was based on an in-depth series of statements he made to investigators when he found himself in custody on June 22, 2012 on an unrelated matter.
That reality forced the Crown to make a deal with Lamb, a chronic drug addict and career criminal, out of fear his admissions would be tossed out of court at trial.
"But for the admission of (Lamb's) statement, the Crown's case would fail," senior Crown attorney Shiela Leinburd told Saull. There was a real possibility it would never be admitted as evidence and Lamb could walk free.
Women killed over drug-related disputes
Lamb killed Sinclair after they met and purchased crack cocaine together and returned to smoke it at his apartment at 822 Notre Dame Ave., according to an agreed statement of facts.
Sinclair was beaten by Lamb with an axe handle after she took what was left of the drugs and locked herself in the bathroom.
In Lamb's statement, "he said that she remained conscious so he proceeded to choke her with his hands until she lost consciousness and died."
He left her body in the bathroom for several days until he wrapped her in plastic, put her into a duffle bag and dropped her near a garbage bin in a Notre Dame Avenue garbage can.
Her remains weren't located until March 31, 2012. An autopsy found the cause of the pregnant woman's death was blunt force trauma. DNA evidence that Sinclair had been in Lamb's suite was obtained, but hinged on the successful admission of his statement to stand up as corroborating evidence against him.
Blacksmith also died at Lamb's hands inside his apartment, and also over a drug-related dispute when she grabbed his phone to call her supplier to obtain more crack. He threw her to the floor and choked her with a telephone cord. He did attempt to revive her but couldn't, the statement of facts state.
Lamb then stole some plastic sheeting from a nearby construction site and used it to wrap up Blacksmith's body and dumped it in the back lane of an abandoned home at 797 Simcoe St.
Her remains weren't found for about six months. When forensic investigators found her, she was in an "advanced state of decomposition" and an autopsy couldn't definitively show a medical cause of death other than a belief she died of "unspecified homicidal violence."
It was Lamb, in June 2012, who told police where to find Blacksmith, suddenly telling them, "he knew where a body could be located."
"There were no eyewitnesses to the killings and despite the best efforts of the police, only limited forensic evidence is available to be put before the court," Leinburd said. "Consequently the killing of both women is taken solely from the accused Lamb's statement," she said.
Future of Nepinak case unclear
At the time of his arrest, Lamb was also accused of killing a third missing woman, Tanya Nepinak, in September 2011. That case did not form part of Thursday's proceedings and it remained unclear what would happen to it.
The Crown stayed the murder charges Lamb faced after he pleaded to the manslaughter counts for the two deaths.
Lamb's criminal history dates back to the mid-1970's and contains more than 100 convictions. While he had several convictions for violence — including a sexual assault for which he served four years in prison in 1992 — most of his crimes were committed to fuel his long-standing drug addiction.
He began using hard drugs at age 12 in Ontario and around this time ran away from his adoptive and abusive home to take up life on the street, court heard.
A doctor's report presented to Saull described Lamb as "egocentric, callous, ruthless and reckless," and that he suffers from an anti-social personality disorder.
Requests to withdraw plea, retracts request
Offered a chance to speak, Lamb began by requesting to withdraw his guilty pleas because the word "sociopath" had been used by a doctor in a report referenced in court, but wasn't tabled as evidence.
The move drew gasps from relatives of the victims who at times cried and shook as they heard the facts of how their family members died.
Lamb ultimately retracted his request and the hearing continued on.
Both Lamb and defence lawyer Martin Glazer said his conduct was clearly influenced by Lamb's long-standing drug problem.
"Shawn is the first to admit he's wasted most of his life abusing substances," Glazer said.
"With treatment, he can become law-abiding… there is light at the end of the tunnel for Mr. Lamb," Glazer said. Glazer continually pointed out how it was Lamb's confession — and resolve to own up to what he did — that led to the women's killer being found.
"The police were faced with a windfall because they had no clue he was involved," Glazer said. "'I told the police I did it, I'm not taking it back,'" was what Lamb told him, said Glazer. "How many people in his shoes would do that?"
"I have remorse. I have empathy," Lamb said. "I understand there's a lot of anger, disgust, hate — they want vengeance," he said.
Saull has not signalled whether he will endorse the recommended sentence for Lamb, but said several times during the course of the hearing that the protection of the public was his primary concern.