Nunavut spouse-killer gets life, no chance of parole for 13 years
Justice Earl Johnson points to Nunavut’s “lack of resources” to cope with spousal abuse
Convicted murderer Adrian Van Eindhoven will not be eligible to apply for parole until after serving 13 years of his life prison sentence, Justice Earl Johnson ruled Dec. 9 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Johnson also ruled that the accused, who was convicted of second degree murder in the April 2004 death of his common-law spouse, will be prohibited from using firearms for 20 years.
A 12-member Iqaluit jury found Van Eindhoven guilty on murder Oct. 15, and recommended no parole eligibility for 25 years — the maximum allowable under the law.
Crown and defense lawyers rejected that recommendation in their final statements on Oct. 6.
Both pointed to the “aboriginality” of the accused and noted that he had served more than nine years in custody both in Nunavut and outside the territory.
“I am satisfied that the jury’s recommendation represents the community’s revulsion to the crime,” Johnson told the court.
The judge noted Nunavut’s extraordinarily high rates of domestic violence and spousal abuse that exceed national rates by a big margin, which Crown lawyer Nick Devlin and defense lawyer Laura Stevens called attention to in their closing arguments.
“What is really behind this is the lack of resources to treat that mountain of a problem,” Johnson said.
Johnson recalled Stevens’ closing statement Oct. 6, in which she noted the convict’s mixed parentage to a Dutch immigrant father and Inuk mother, as the fourth of eight children.
Van Eindhoven’s mother was partly raised at a residential school, Stevens said, and was separated from her children when she was sent south to treat a case of tuberculosis.
Van Eindhoven, 39, lost touch with his Inuit roots after his mother descended into alcoholism, and he was sent south for schooling.
Despite this, Van Eindhoven succeeded at launching a drywall business at the age of 18. The business came to an end when he suffered a gunshot wound to one of his legs at 21, which required several operations.
During his 20s he developed an addiction to alcohol when attempting to relieve the pain of his injuries, the court heard.
The judge noted the continuous physical violence that Van Eindhoven directed to his common-law spouse, Leanne Irtokee, throughout their relationship in the early 2000s.
This came to a brutal end in April 2004, when Irtokee, 22, was badly beaten by Van Eindhoven, and stabbed through the heart. Irtokee was found bruised and bloodied over her entire body, the court heard.
Evidence from the incident, as well as details of Van Eindhoven’s earlier abuse to Irtokee as presented to the court, “suggests a callous disregard for a human being who was his soul mate,” Johnson said.
The court case was Van Eindhoven’s second in relation to Irtokee’s death. He first stood trial for murder in 2007, in Rankin Inlet, which also resulted in a life sentence for murder.
But that conviction was overturned in 2012 by the Nunavut Court of Appeal, which ordered a new trial.
Van Eindhoven served time at the maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary for two years since 2007.
He subsequently served time at a medium-security facility in Pembroke, Ont., the court heard, where he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his time at the Kingston facility.
In Pembroke, the convict attended rehabilitation programs and overcame alcoholism, Johnson said.
“I believe he has shown sufficient potential for rehabilitation,” the judge said.
Johnson acknowledged the pain felt by Irtokee’s grieving family.
“The verdict I deliver is not a reflection of the loss they have endured,” he said.
Standing, Van Eindhoven listened with a pained expression to Johnson’s verdict, 13 years of imprisonment without parole.
“I hope that you continue to work on your issues so that you can rejoin the community to which you belong,” Johnson told him.