TORONTO - A man jailed without parole eligibility for 20 years after pleading guilty to killing two teen girls in a case that took more than a decade to crack actually got off lucky, Ontario's top court has ruled.

In a blunt assessment of his argument, the Ontario Court of Appeal said Larry Runholm's attempt to reopen his case showed his dishonesty.

"In our view, his proposed fresh evidence is incredulous and contrived and it is littered with internal and external contradictions and inconsistencies," the court said in a terse judgment steeped in contempt.

"In short, it is unworthy of belief."

Runholm was convicted at age 35 in January 2003 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the deaths of Donna Tebbenham and Bernadette LeClair, both 16, in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The girls, who had been sexually assaulted, were killed about three months apart in 1987.

It took until July 2000 to arrest Runholm when advanced computer technology finally matched him to fingerprints recovered from the crime scenes.

He was charged with first-degree murder.

"The case against him for first-degree murder in each instance is overwhelming," the Appeal Court ruled following a hearing April 1.

"Far from being the victim of a miscarriage of justice, the appellant should consider himself fortunate that the Crown agreed to let him plead to two counts of second-degree murder and that the trial judge accepted his pleas."

Convictions for first-degree murder would have meant an automatic life sentence without parole eligibility for 25 years. In this case, Ontario Superior Court Justice Stanley Kurisko sentenced him to life without parole eligibility for 20 years.

With time served before his trial, he could be eligible for parole as early as 2015.

At the time, Runholm was described as a gentle, caring family man who led a seemingly ordinary and upstanding life of working hard, raising a son, and coaching a little-league baseball team.

He had attempted to argue he had no memory of the events surrounding the killings but the Appeal Court called him manipulative and duplicitous.

"We agree with the submission of the Crown ... that to grant the appellant the relief he seeks `would make a mockery of the criminal justice system and turn the appellate process into a game to be played by wily litigants at the expense of a search for a truth."'