Life sentence for dad who starved, drowned daughter
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, February 8, 2016 10:44AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 9, 2016 12:15AM EST
TORONTO -- A man who drowned or starved his horrifically abused teenaged daughter to death two decades ago was handed a life sentence Monday, after court heard impact statements from three of the victim's relatives.
Everton Biddersingh, 60, of Toronto, had little to say before Superior Court Justice Al O'Marra handed down the punishment for the "horrible" crime.
"It will make no difference," Biddersingh mumbled to the court.
A jury last month convicted Biddersingh of first-degree murder in the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Melonie Biddersingh. He will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.
In a written impact statement, the victim's mother described the devastation she felt after learning in 2012 that her daughter's charred remains had finally been identified.
"There is nothing -- I mean absolutely nothing -- Melonie would have ever done that could have led to the dreadful outcome of her murder," Opal Austin said in the statement read to court.
"So, I am left wondering why for the rest of my life."
The Crown maintained Biddersingh drowned or starved his daughter after a period of prolonged abuse, or that she died while he confined her in the apartment they shared with her stepmother, Elaine Biddersingh.
The teen, whose burned remains were found stuffed in a suitcase in an isolated industrial area north of Toronto, had come to Canada from Jamaica for a better life. Instead, by the time of her death, she weighed a skeletal 50 pounds and had 21 broken bones in various stages of healing. A piece of a vegetable was found in her vagina.
She had spent countless hours chained to furniture, stuffed in a tiny closet, or locked out on a balcony. Her father, according to one witness, would kick her and force the helpless victim's head into a toilet and then flush.
In another statement read to court, Racquel Ellis said no words could describe the suffering inflicted on her sister.
"I remain in shock and deeply traumatized to learn of the disturbing details of my sister's days on earth," Ellis said in a statement read by Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada and a family friend.
"It's devastating to believe that the persons my mother entrusted with her children's happiness, safety and life would do such a horrible thing."
Neither Austin nor Ellis, who live in Kingston, Jamaica, were present Monday. Both had been in court for much of the trial.
Austin had sent her daughter and a son to live with her father and stepmother in Toronto, in 1991. The teen, who wanted to be a nurse, is believed to have died in September 1994. It was only in 2011 that Biddersingh's wife told a pastor what had happened, allowing police to finally identify the teen's remains and lay charges in March 2012.
The son, Dwayne Biddersingh, fell from his family's 22-storey west-end balcony a year after arriving in Canada in a death deemed a suicide.
In passing sentence, O'Marra, who also heard a victim-impact statement from another sister, said Biddersingh deserved the maximum allowable punishment, which he had escaped for 20 years.
"Her life with you was an unspeakable horror," O'Marra said.
The teen's stepmother, Elaine Biddersingh, 54, faces her own first-degree murder trial in April.