Lawyer for double murderer urges judge against ‘custodial death sentence’

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Taliyah Leigh Marsman is shown in this handout image provided by the Calgary Police.

CALGARY — The lawyer for a Calgary man convicted of killing a Calgary mother and her young daughter says 50 years in prison before any chance of parole would be tantamount to a death sentence.

A jury found Edward Downey, 49, guilty last year of first-degree murder in the 2016 deaths of Sara Baillie and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman.

The convictions come with an automatic life sentence, but Justice Beth Hughes is to decide whether Downey must wait 25 or 50 years before he can apply for parole.

The Crown is seeking consecutive periods of parole ineligibility, meaning Downey would be 96 before he has a chance at freedom.

His lawyer, Gavin Wolch, argued Friday the sentences should be served concurrently, meaning Downey would be 71 when he his eligible for parole.

“Consecutive ineligibility would extinguish any glimmer of hope. Even concurrent time leaves only a sliver,” said Wolch, noting his client is remorseful.

“You could call it a custodial death sentence.”

Downey apologized Friday to Baillie and Taliyah’s friends and family — but did not admit to killing them.

“I’m very sorry for what happened to Sara and Taliyah. I’m sorry to the families that you lost your loved ones,” he said in a soft, hoarse voice.

“There was things that I should have did. I know there’s nothing I can say to bring your loved ones back.”

Hughes will give her decision at a future date that has yet to be set.

Earlier, victim impact statements were read in court as Downey sat placidly.

“You didn’t have the right to decide that their lives didn’t matter, because they mattered to us. They mattered a lot,” Baillie’s aunt Marilynne Hamilton told Downey, her voice choked by tears.

Her husband Scott and daughter Alex were by her side.

Framed photos of Baillie and Taliyah were placed in Downey’s line of sight.

The trial heard Downey believed Baillie had influenced her best friend to break up with him and blamed her for her friend refusing to work for him as an escort.

The Crown argued Baillie’s daughter was a witness who needed silencing.

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