The man who killed Robert Splitt – known to his friends as “Igor” — in broad daylight downtown Chilliwack a year and a half ago will spend at least the next 10 years in jail.
And if the judge agrees with Crown counsel’s submissions, that will be 12 years.
Gerald Leslie Dolman admitted killing Splitt when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a surprise move on Oct. 10, something his lawyer Chris Terepocki called a significant mitigating factor.
“That is very rare,” Terepocki said of a plea to second-degree murder, a conviction that comes with an automatic life sentence.
The only question for BC Supreme Court Justice Palbinder Shergill is how many years until parole eligibility for Dolman. The minimum is 10, what Dolman is asking for, with Crown counsel Paul Blessin suggesting that 12 years is called for in this case.
The case involved a love triangle between the two men and a woman who worked as a prostitute named Rebecca Burns.
Terepocki said the 65-year-old had spent tens of thousands of dollars over prior months buying drugs for Burns in exchange for sex. But Burns was Splitt’s girlfriend and on the day of the incident, a neighbour told Dolman she had stolen $600 from him.
“That is indeed what kicked off Mr. Dolman’s rage,” Terepocki said, adding that Dolman concluded at that moment that Burns and Splitt may have been bilking him of money for some time.
“Mr. Dolman believed these two were operating as a team to pilfer money from him,” he added.
An hour after finding out about the alleged $600 theft late afternoon on May 6, 2016, and after a cyclist was hit nearby, Dolman ran into the car driven by Splitt in front of the Save-On-Foods at Salish Plaza. Burns was also in the vehicle.
After Dolman stabbed Splitt in the car, the 49-year-old victim got away briefly but Dolman pursued him, continuing to stab him even on the ground, in front of horrified onlookers at the plaza.
“Our victim in this was no angel,” Blessin told the court adding, however, that nothing he did legitimately triggered the attack.
“He was stabbed multiple times while helpless on the ground.”
Blessin outlined some case law that suggested courts should not go to the default minimum of 10 years before parole eligibility, but rather that judges have the discretion for longer terms, even in cases that do not involve torture or other significant aggravating factors.
He suggested for serious cases that involved some level of planning, 12 to 15 years was suitable, with more serious cases 15 to 20. Given Dolman’s early guilty plea and his lack of a criminal record, Blessin said 12 was the right number.
Terepocki suggested that even at the age of 65 facing 10 years, given his 31 years of sobriety attending Alcoholics Anonymous, Dolman is a good candidate for rehabilitation.
He also took some issue with the pre-sentence report author’s conclusion that Dolman was not remorseful for killing Splitt.
“He comes before this court expressing remorse,” Terepocki said. “He is deeply ashamed for what he did.”
As he has done at all his court appearances, Dolman sat emotionless in the prisoner’s box with a shaved head with a trim white goatee, black-rimmed glasses dressed in prison-issue red sweatshirt and pants.
Justice Shergill said she would give her oral reasons for sentencing on Friday.