Warning: Disturbing content
Standing together at the front of a New Westminster courtroom, the family of Abbotsford police Const. John Davidson each took turns trying to express the devastating impact of his murder in 2017.
His widow, Denise, told the court when she learned he had been shot and killed in the line of duty, "my world fell apart."
Davidson’s loved ones delivered the victim impact statements at the sentencing of Oscar Arfmann, who was found guilty of the first-degree murder of the 53-year-old officer at a shopping complex on Mount Lehman Road on Nov. 6, 2017.
Crown prosecutor Theresa Iandiorio described to the court how Davidson was shot twice from behind, within seconds of getting out of his vehicle. She said there was no confrontation, no exchange of gunfire: just an ambush, which she called the heinous, brutal execution of an on-duty police officer.
"Mr. Arfmann fired the second shot at close range, while Constable Davidson was lying face-down on the ground," Iandiorio said. "On Nov. the 6th, 2017, society lost a wonderful and courageous human being, a person who dedicated his life to helping and protecting others."
Davidson’s widow told the court when they met, they instantly felt like they had known each other their whole lives. She said they moved to Canada from England in 2006, to pursue Davidson’s dream of a healthier, more enriched life.
"My happy life ended with John’s," she said.
She said Davidson had never fired his weapon except in training, and was proud of that fact. She told the court nothing could make up for his loss, but "we can walk away knowing justice has been done."
Davidson’s son Drew also read a statement, and said the media coverage of the trial was an additional source of distress. He also wanted to correct an impression that his father died in a "shoot-out," reiterating Davidson was shot twice from behind.
"My dad should still be here," he said. "He had so much life in him, and he had no plans of slowing down, ever."
Davidson’s daughter Dina called her father feisty, fun and adventurous.
"I miss my dad so much, it’s agonizing," she said. "Oscar Arfmann is fully responsible for taking our future away from us."
Davidson’s youngest child Fay also read a statement, telling the court she was just 19 when she lost him.
"I was not done getting to know my dad, and he wasn’t done getting to know me either," she said, and added Davidson was her biggest fan. "Those two bullets created a void that can and will never be filled."
Before sentencing Arfmann, Justice Carol Ross asked the 68-year-old if he wanted to say anything. Arfmann rose and spoke briefly, however it was difficult to hear what he was saying in the court.
Speaking to media outside, Arfmann’s lawyer Martin Peters said his client was talking about something he’s brought up before.
"He doesn’t believe he killed anybody, and as he said, he thinks he’s the victim of a car accident caused by the police," Peters said. "What we’ve got here is a man who is schizophrenic who is going to spend the rest of his life in jail."
Arfmann was found guilty in October, but his conviction was not initially entered in the court record, as Ross granted a defence request for a new psychiatric assessment.
In January, Arfmann’s lawyer told the court though the assessment suggested his client may not have been criminally responsible (NCR) at the time, Arfmann had instructed his counsel he did not want to pursue a NCR finding and wanted to be sentenced criminally.
Arfmann did not testify during the trial, and the defence did not present a case.
A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years. With time in custody factored in, Ross indicated he will not be eligible for parole until 2042.
During the trial, the court heard police were initially called to the complex where the shooting took place after employees of a local car dealership recognized a vehicle that had been stolen from their lot days earlier.
One of the workers testified he was confronted by Arfmann, and told him the police were on their way.
He testified Arfmann responded: "I'll show you what I have in store for the police."
The court heard shots were fired at a truck blocking the stolen car.
Davidson was one of the officers responding to 911 calls about the incident, and was the first to arrive on scene.
Arfmann was arrested after police rammed the stolen Mustang he was driving not long after the killing. Officers found a rifle on the passenger seat.