Travis Baumgartner, an armoured car guard who shot and killed three colleagues during a robbery in Edmonton, has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 40 years.

It’s the harshest sentence handed down in Canada in decades, based on a 2011 law that allows consecutive parole terms for those convicted of multiple murders.

Justice John Rooke accepted a joint submission Wednesday from the Crown and Baumgartner’s lawyer. During sentencing, Rooke called Baumgartner a cold-blooded killer.

"It's difficult to describe the revulsion of society and this court and the public,” he told the courtroom. "Victims were pawns of mere greed, anger, thrill seeking and his need for unspeakable violence."

Baumgartner, 22, had pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and a charge of attempted murder.

In June 2012, he shot and killed Eddie Rejano, 39, Michelle Shegelski, 26, and Brian Ilesic, 35, while the crew was reloading ATM machines at the University of Alberta during a night shift.

Court heard that Baumgartner was nearly $60,000 in debt and that he used his company gun to shoot his colleagues from behind.

He also shot a fourth co-worker, Matthew Schuman, who survived.

Baumgartner was arrested the next day at a Canada-U.S. border crossing in British Columbia. Police said was carrying $334,000 in a backpack.

Rejano and Ilesic were both fathers, while Shegelski was a newlywed.

Chief Crown prosecutor Steve Bilodeau said the severity of Baumgartner’s crimes is “reflected in the sentence that he’ll be serving for the horrors he committed in our city.”

Outside court, the victims’ families approved of the harsh sentence, but said it will never bring their loved ones back.

“We call it justice…sure, justice. My way of justice is back in the old days – hang him. That’s justice for what he did,” Rejano’s brother, Joseph, told reporters.

He said he will never be able to explain to Rejano’s children why they’ll have to grow up without their father. 

“You can’t explain that to a child.”

Ilesic’s aunt, Janet Stosky, said the past year was a very difficult one for her family.

“Sitting in the courtroom with Travis was extremely difficult and I think that all of the families showed enormous restraint and respect and honoured our loved ones that we lost,” she said outside court.

The Crown said Baumgartner’s sentence, with no parole eligibility for 40 years, is the toughest punishment given to a convict since Canada’s last execution in 1962.

With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Serena Mah and files from The Canadian Press

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