Christopher Ausman’s brother donning a shirt in his honour at the Kelowna Law Courts on Jan. 30. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

BREAKING: Kelowna murderer, Steven Pirko, sentenced to life in prison

Steven Pirko will serve 11 years before he is eligible for parole

UPDATE: 12:10 p.m.

Steven Pirko will serve life in prison with 11 years before he is eligible for parole, BC Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton decided today.

Pirko will receive two years and seven months (947 days) of pre-sentence credit for time served towards his sentence, meaning he will be eligible for parole in 2028.

Life in prison was a forgone conclusion with the conviction of second-degree murder in June, but through sentencing, Betton decided some additional period of parole ineligibility on top of the minimum is necessary.

”He has expressed remorse and in my view, it’s sincere,” said Betton.

Second-degree murder carries a parole eligibility range of 10 years minimum up to a maximum of 25 years.

The Crown suggested a 12-15 year period of parole ineligibility, while defence was arguing for the mandatory minimum of 10 years.

In June, the convicting jury recommended 12 years.

More to come.

________

ORIGINAL STORY: 11 a.m.

Christopher Ausman’s friends and family broke into tears as the man convicted of killing their friend, son and father faced them and expressed his regret in a Kelowna courtroom this morning.

“I just want to say I’m very, very sorry for everything,” said Steven Pirko. “It makes me sick how sad that little girl is and how sad all of you are. I feel horrible and I always will. I’d give almost anything to take it back.”

Pirko, 27, was convicted of second-degree murder by a jury in June 2019 for the January 2014 killing of Ausman. While a life sentence is required for a second-degree murder conviction, the sentencing hearing will determine how long Pirko will serve before he’s eligible for parole.

During Crown counsel David Grabavac’s submissions on Thursday morning, he told Justice Allan Betton a 12 to 15 year period would be fitting and in line with the 12 years recommended by the convicting jury.

Defence counsel Jordan Watt is seeking the minimum amount of time before Pirko’s parole eligibility at 10 years, calling Crown’s suggestion “unreasonable and excessive.”

“There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t feel regret; there’s not a day that goes by he doesn’t feel remorse,” said Watt during Thursday’s proceedings.

“Mr. Pirko is still a young and immature person, however, he is not the same person as he was five years ago and in 10 years he will not be the same person he is here in this courtroom.”

The pain felt by Ausman’s family became apparent as they shared their victim impact statements on Thursday, which moved most in the courtroom to tears.

Anne Hutton, Ausman’s mother, said she has been trying to find the words to explain her grief for the past six years and called it “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

“What is left is nothing short of a living hell,” she said. “My shattered heart will never heal.”

Ausman’s daughter, Dylynn Couttie, now 16-years-old, was just 10 years old when she lost her father.

“I will never be able to know who my father was. I can only hear about who he was,” she said. “I will never remember what his voice sounded like or how he dressed.”

Ausman’s family and friends filled up the courtroom again on Friday.

BC Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton is anticipated to give his decision later this morning.

READ MORE: Kelowna murderer responsible for installation of cameras that caught him


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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