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Convicted killer's sentence highlights flaws in legal system

Taylor Van Diest was murdered by Matthew Foerster as he tried to sexually assault her Halloween 2011, a jury unanimously decided.  - Contributed
Taylor Van Diest was murdered by Matthew Foerster as he tried to sexually assault her Halloween 2011, a jury unanimously decided.
— image credit: Contributed

Matthew Foerster was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Taylor Van Diest, but this community has yet to see the last of the Cherryville man.

Lingering allegations will bring Foerster back to  Kelowna next month.

Crown Counsel Iain Currie said two outstanding files remain and on May 5 Foerster will return to court to schedule a trial for those matters.

The first charge is in connection with an alleged home invasion in Cherryville on Oct. 19, 2004 and involves a 19-year-old woman.

The second relates to an alleged attack at Kelowna’s Garden of Eden escort agency April 12, 2005. As a result of that incident, he is facing one count of sexual assault and unlawful confinement.

If "hypothetically" he were convicted of those crimes, Currie said his sentence would be served concurrent to the sentence  he's now facing. A guilty verdict would not even alter his 25-year parole eligibility.

It's something Taylor Van Diest's mother Marie, sees as a fault in the system.

"I am certainly hoping (those victims) will have their justice as well," Van Diest said. "The maximum is 25 years, so whether this goes forward or not, what justice will they get? He'll serve no further time."

Van Diest said she's not heard if the women in those cases will go through the court process, but can imagine that the prospect of reliving Foerster's actions "would just be too traumatizing."

It's an issue that Colin Mayes, Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Shuswap, addressed through  Private Members’ Bill C-587, Monday.

The bill was aimed at amending  the Criminal Code  to increase parole ineligibility.

The Bill seeks to extend the parole eligibility period for those convicted of the abduction, heinous acts of sexual assault and murder of an individual from the current 25 years, up to a maximum of 40 years.

“Sadistic criminals convicted of such heinous crimes are never granted parole; thus, the hearings are unnecessary and are extremely painful for the victims’ families to endure,” said MP Mayes.

The seriousness of the offences set out in this bill will ensure that a parole ineligibility period would only be applied in cases where the murderer’s moral blameworthiness is very high-abduction; heinous acts of sexual assault; and murder, allowing for judicial discretion, and not a mandatory minimum ensures charter compliance.

“My Bill is about saving the families of the victims from having to go through the agony of attending every two years unnecessary and traumatic parole hearings after the convict’s 25 year sentence expires.

“When passed, this Bill will assist families by not having them deal with the re-enactment of what happened to their loved ones, over and over again.  Families need closure,” concluded MP Mayes.

Also facing legal repercussions from Taylor Van Diest's murder is Stephen Foerster, Matthew's father.

He'll be in a Vernon courtroom May 5 for a charge of Accessory After the Fact to Murder.

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