A man with Parkinson’s disease who admitted to killing two people in a home on Coquitlam’s Westwood Plateau had the parole eligibility for his life sentence shaved by five years.
Today (Jan. 4), the BC Court of Appeal ruled that Maurio Salehi can serve 15 years behind bars before he’s eligible for parole — not the 20-year sentence imposed in 2019.
In his reasons for judgment, Justice Peter Willcock wrote that the sentencing judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin, “erred in principle” by not taking into account the worsening progression of Salehi’s medical condition while in jail.
The new evidence brought before the appeals court concluded that Salehi “will experience hardship in prison beyond that experienced by other inmates as a result of his illness,” the court papers read.
Salehi, 59, of Richmond, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in February 2019 as part of a plea arrangement where Crown counsel agreed not to pursue first-degree murder charges.
In July 2015, Salehi, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, stabbed to death his former domestic partner, Iryna Gabalis, 56, at night while she was in bed in her Alpine Lane home in Coquitlam.
He also fatally stabbed Dmitri Faktorovski, 53, who was also in the house after arriving from Israel a few days earlier.
According to court papers, Salehi changed out of his bloody clothes and stole Gabalis’ cell phone before leaving the scene; he threw them out while returning to Richmond.
Crown counsel had asked the courts to impose a 21-year jail sentence for the double murders, while defence lawyers submitted 12 years in jail.
In reducing Justice Devlin’s sentence for parole eligibility from 20 to 15 years, the BC Court of Appeal stated in its ruling: “While the rate of progress of Parkinson’s is not certain, the prognosis in this case is such that the appellant will have five to ten ‘pretty good years’ of activity and mobility, and the following 10 years will see a progressive decline in mobility and overall ability.”
“It is likely, therefore, that significantly before the expiry of the period of his parole ineligibility, the appellant will experience hardship in prison beyond that experienced by other inmates,” Willcock wrote.
- with files from Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Media