B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett sentenced Lloyd William Cook to five years in prison on Tuesday for two convictions related to the January 2000 death of his stepson, Adam Scott Williams-Dudoward.
Parrett issued terms of three years for unlawful confinement and two years for indignity to a dead body to be served consecutively. Cook, 54, had been found not guilty of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death due to a lack of evidence linking the boy's death to his specific actions.
During a seven day trial, the court heard the 13-year-old boy had been confined to a bedroom in the family home for as many as three days before he died and his body was hidden away in the trunk of a car for at least three weeks before it was buried in a wooded area along the Nechako River.
Adam's mother, Judy Elaina Williams, is currently serving a two-year conditional sentence, or house arrest, for indignity to a human body but Parrett found that a conditional sentence was out of the question given Cook's "significant and disturbing" criminal record.
Over a span of 22 years ending in April 1998, Cook had been convicted of 33 offences, most of them committed in the South Okanagan, 11 of them for assault of which two caused bodily harm and one involved a weapon, Parrett noted. Moreover, he said Cook was on probation at the time he committed several of the offences.
During the trial, the court heard that Cook and Williams had confined Adam to keep him away from his younger brother. However, Parrett said "nothing justifies this use of force or restraint."
Crown counsel Lara Vizsolyi had argued for consecutive terms of three years on each count while defence counsel Stephen Taylor called for concurrent terms of 18 months, noting Cook had not been convicted of an offence since April 1998.
But Parrett noted Cook's acts against Adam were committed while he was on probation and he then took steps to hide what happened from authorities. Cook and Williams spent much of the next five years hiding out, nearly four of them in a trailer at the back of a rural Oliver property owned by his brother.
After Cook found a new girlfriend, Williams went to police in October 2004 and helped searchers track down some remains later determined to be Adam's. Following a one-year undercover operation designed to tease a confession out of Cook, he was arrested in June 2009.
Up until that point, police did not make public that remains had been found and said at the time the public was in no danger.
On whether the terms should be consecutive or concurrent, Parrett said he concluded that the treatment of the boy's body after his death "was part of an effort to evade detection that in no small measure succeeded in the destruction of any forensic evidence in this case."
During a hearing earlier in the afternoon, Cook said his father would beat his mother and, as a result, he ran away from home at a very young age and started drinking but stopped in 1998 when he met Williams.
Breaking into tears at one point, Cook, who quit school in Grade 10 and earned a living cutting firewood and working in vineyards and orchards, said he was "very sorry" for what happened to Adam and regretted not calling 911 at the time.
"I did some very irrational thinking," Cook said, and blamed his actions on a "panic disorder."
"I was only trying to do what at the time I figured in my mind that this was right and I now know was very wrong, and I'm sorry for that."
In an interview after sentencing, Adam's biological father, Wayne Dudoward, said he was pleased with the sentence but did not buy Cook's apology and the emotion he displayed.
"I'm quite angered," Dudoward said. "I almost felt some compassion for the guy when he was talking about his past up until he said 'your honour, I only did it to keep Adam away from [his brother]' and it was like, 'o.k., that's out of the window.'"
Cook continues to face a charge of failing to appear in court and two counts of breach of a recognizance after he was deemed an absconder when he was a no-show for Parrett's Jan. 31 verdict on the charges. On Feb. 8, Cook was found guilty in asbentia and on Feb. 11, he was apprehended in Osoyoos.
By that time, Taylor had won permission to excuse himself from the case. Cook said Tuesday that Taylor had offered to appear on his behalf today, but declined the offer, preferring to get the matter dealt with a day sooner.
Cook is scheduled to appear at a disposition on Friday on the remaining charges.