Debi Volker had a heart as big as a football and always believed in giving people a break, her father said shortly after her killer was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.
Les Jones said outside Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench that his daughter was a wonderful mother who did most of the work in raising her three children. The children all had to testify at the five-week long trial of their father, who was convicted on April 5 of killing his estranged wife.
“She was really good with the kids,” Jones said.
“When she left him (Brian Volker), she gave them the option of coming with her or not and they all went with her,” Jones said.
Brian Clarence Volker, 50, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years for murdering his wife more than two years ago, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma ruled on Monday.
Jones, 75, said his daughter will always be remembered for having a heart “this big” he said, making a circle with his hands the size of a football.
Jones said Debi helped run his restaurant and one day hired a person with a disability to wait on tables.
“I asked her why and she replied “‘Dad everyone needs a break.’ ”
“She was loved all over that Delburne country,” he added referring to his daughter’s funeral, which attracted more than 700 people to a village church.
Crown prosecutor Anders Quist said later that the Volker children were “the real heroes.”
“We asked a lot of them to come out into a public place and talk about experiences that are darker than most people have in their lives and those kids did it. They came through with flying colours,” Quist said.
“They were honest and straight forward and the jury could see that.
“This is a tragic story.
“Domestic violence is a scourge on our society and this is one of the worst example of it.
“We can only hope that other people who are struggling with domestic violence, that something can be done to prevent it spiralling the way this one did,” Quist said.
First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in jail without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
There is a provision in the Criminal Code of Canada called the “faint hope” clause that allows a person serving such a sentence to apply for parole after serving 15 years in jail.
The sentence, according to the Criminal Code, actually started on the day Brian Volker was arrested, court heard.
Volker was convicted of shooting his estranged wife in the head with a .22-calibre sawn-off rifle in her Delburne home with their three children, aged 11, 14 and 16 at the time, present on Feb. 23, 2009.
Volker, who was convicted last week of first-degree murder by a jury, choked back tears as he apologized to his children and family.
However, Jones said the tears were hollow.
“I wasn’t really impressed with him breaking out in tears when he’s been sitting there like he’s been in church for the last five weeks,” Jones said later.
The accused rarely changed expression throughout the trial, even when his children testified.
Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton said outside court that her client has instructed her to launch an appeal.
“He’s absolutely devastated,” MacNaughton said of her farmer-trucker client.
MacNaughton said she won’t handle the appeal and couldn’t comment on the possible appeal grounds.
Quist said he wasn’t surprised by a possible appeal. It’s just about standard in murder convictions, he added.
Brian Volker apologized to his children, who weren’t in court, and to his own family.
“I’m deeply sorry for everything,” he said.
Volker was also convicted of a single count of break and enter and committing assault with a weapon. He was also found guilty of four counts of breaching conditions of a release from custody.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail for the break-in and assault with a weapon. Those sentences will be served concurrently with the murder conviction. He was also handed three-month concurrent sentences for each of the breaches.
In his defence, the accused testified he took five sleeping pills about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2009. He said he didn’t remember anything after that until 38 hours later, when he woke up in hospital.
Court heard the accused went to his wife’s home in Delburne about 3 a.m. with a sawed-off .22-calibre rifle.
He killed Debi Volker with a single shot to the head and left a suicide note at his home with documents setting out his affairs.