WINNIPEG – It’s a stiff sentence for three murders that sparked fear in Winnipeg’s homeless community.
John Paul Ostamas, 40, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.
Ostamas pleaded guilty to three counts of second degree murder in the deaths of Stony Stanley Bushie, Myles Monias and Donald Collins.
The sentence on each count was life in prison with no chance of parole eligibility for 25 years.
Justice Vic Toews agreed to a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence that those 25 years be served one after another instead of at the same time.
The Crown says that makes this is the longest parole ineligibility in Manitoba’s history.
The Harper government amended the Criminal Code in 2011 to allow judges the authority to impose consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for those convicted of multiple murders, an acknowledgment of each life lost.
During the sentencing Monday morning, the Crown recounted the three men’s violent deaths. All were living on the streets, battling substance abuse, when they were killed in April 2015.
Crown Attorney Sheilla Leinburd said these vulnerable men had “no place to run, no place to hide”.
Some family members cried and left the court room as the brutal nature of the crimes was described.
Bushie’s nephew Franklin said seeing Ostamas in court was difficult.
“It was just disgusting and kind of scary. Like really, is this the person and did he really do this stuff? I don’t understand a person that can do something like that,” he said.
Ostamas did apologize to his victims and the community.
“I was wrong and I’m willing to accept my consequences,” he said.
The Crown read emotional victim impact statements from Bushie and Monias’s families.
Franklin Bushie is pleased that in this case, a life sentence will be a life sentence.
“We’re satisfied, we’re ok. We’ll be ok. He gets to live in prison for the rest of his life and pass away in there,” he said.
Miles Monias’s father Ron says he’s happy with the lengthy parole ineligibility.
“Society does not have to live with this man, and I’m glad for that,” he said.
Ron Monias says his son was a good kid who enjoyed life growing up on Garden Hill First Nation.
“Miles lived every kind of life there is to live on the reserve. Hockey player, music, sports, cooking, hunting, taking part in community events. He was just like any other kid and a good guy all around.”
He says he misses his son.
“I know he’s there every morning when I reach my hands to the heavens saying good morning to him. So he’s still with me in spirit,” he said.