Toronto turns the page on a dark chapter for the LGBTQ community
Bruce McArthur plead guilty to the murder of eight men in Toronto. After several days of submissions from the prosecution and victim-impact statements, on Friday 8 February, Judge John McMahon delivered a sentence of eight concurrent life sentences. McArthur will not be eligible for parole until he is 91.
McArthur, a 67-year-old landscape gardener from Toronto, was arrested in January 2018. He was initially charged in relation to the deaths of two men - police subsequently charged him in relation to six further cases.
The men that McArthur has admitted killing are Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi. All went missing during the years 2010–2017.
Police have confirmed that some of the victims were killed during a sexual assault or while being “unlawfully confined”. After the murders, McArthur dismembered the men’s bodies to avoid detection.
This is a case that has rocked Toronto’s LGBTQ community. Police have been criticised for not taking the matter seriously enough when the victims were first reported as missing.
The arrest of McArthur confirmed the worst fears of many in Toronto’s gay village, who for years had whispered that a serial killer might be targeting their community.
Many of the victims were immigrants from South Asia or the Middle East who were not out to their families. Toronto’s gay village was supposed to be their safe place. Instead, it became the place where they met Bruce McArthur.
The BBC confirms that McArthur himself was no stranger to the community of Toronto’s gay village. The grandfather and father of two had come out as gay later in life, but had been a neighbourhood regular since the late 1990s.
In his sentencing judgement, the Guardian reports that Judge John McMahon described McArthur’s behaviour as “pure evil” and said he would have kept killing if he had not been apprehended by the police.