Glaring down at the convicted murderer he was about to send to prison for 15 years, Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman took dead aim at George Christopher Gale's humanity.
Gale, 32, was convicted of shooting and killing his common-law spouse, Jocelyn Bishop, on June 27, 2010 in the home they shared on Fanshawe Park Road West. She was 21.
A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder on July 24 of this year after a nine-day trial, a conviction that carries a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 but no more than 25 years.
Gale, whose first trial ended in a mistrial in March, claims Bishop killed herself in front of him.
Goodman contrasted the love of animals the couple shared with Gale’s burying Bishop in a “haphazard” grave in their backyard overnight as he neared the conclusion of his 45-minute decision.
“As an individual fond of animals you would treat your dearly departed pets in a better fashion than the way you treated (Bishop),” he said, adding there was not "one scintilla" of evidence he grieved for the loss of his love. “(Your) actions validate (you are) a person devoid of a conscience or feelings.”
In like fashion, Gale showed little or no emotion as Goodman read his decision.
The judge thrashed Gale, an avid gunsmith on medication for social anxiety, for his “calculated attempt to conceal the act of murder,” actively promoting the lie than Bishop ran away for days before she was found in the backyard, and finally deflecting the blame for her death on the Bishop family.
Jocelyn’s father, Don Bishop said the loss of his daughter would haunt their large extended family forever. She was “grandchild 20 of 21,” as one grandmother put it in her victim impact statement.
“I’ll never be satisfied,” he said.
Mom Ginette Bishop was gratified that Goodman called Gale out for accusing the family of abusing and abandoning her daughter.
“I’m glad now that the judge said that about him,” she said. “As soon as he called us we were there. We love her to death.”
Defence lawyer John Getliffe said he was comfortable with Goodman’s decision. He said it’s up to Gale and whatever legal counsel he seeks in the future whether to appeal or not.
He thought Goodman would come in at around 12 or 13 years, and disagreed with Assistant Crown Attorney Laurie Tuttle’s recommendation of 17-18 years.
“Justice Goodman is quite right that the instruction from the Court of Appeal on domestic violence matters is in the area of 12 to 15 years,” he said. “I thought his reasons given today were excellent.”
At the sentencing hearing seven days earlier, Goodman heard testimony from Jocelyn’s parents and her sister, Melissa Linton, that Gale mouthed a threat and an obscenity at them from across the courtroom after the verdict was delivered in July.
Tuttle wanted Goodman to consider it an aggravating factor in Gale’s sentence.
On Thursday Goodman said he preferred their testimony to that of Gale, who denied mouthing anything but that he couldn’t consider it in his sentence because the Crown wasn’t able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gale was also ordered to submit a DNA sample to the national criminal databank, was fitted with a lifetime firearms ownership prohibition and forbidden from contacting any member of the Bishop family, directly or indirectly.
Goodman’s sentence doesn’t mean Gale will be released the day he has served 15 years. His parole eligibility will be determined at a hearing, which Don intends to attend.
“If I’m still alive, I’ll be there.”