Derek Saretzky sentenced to 75 years without parole for murder of toddler, father and elderly woman

Derek Saretzky, the southern Alberta man who murdered a toddler, her father and an elderly woman, will not be allowed to apply for parole until he is 97 years old — a sentence hailed by the family of two victims as the best that they could hope for.

Saretzky was sentenced in court in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years. It's one of the stiffest sentences handed down in Canada since the death penalty was abolished.

 

With credit for time served in pre-trial custody, the sentence means the 24-year-old will have to wait 73 years until he is eligible for parole.

In June, a jury found Saretzky guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for the 2015 slayings of Terry Blanchette, 27, his daughter, Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, 2, and Hanne Meketech, 69, in the Crowsnest Pass region of southern Alberta.

They also found him guilty of committing an indignity to the toddler's body, which was dismembered and burned.

Saretzky received a five-year, concurrent sentence for that crime.

In handing down the sentence, Court of Queen's Bench Justice William Tilleman said Saretzky's actions were "simply abominable" and had caused "grave injury to his entire community."

The family members of the victims have lived through "a real horror story," the judge said.

Saretzky stood as Tilleman pronounced the sentence. He showed no visible emotion.

'Best we could hope for'

Outside the courtroom, Terry Blanchette's father, Bill Blanchette, said the family was pleased with the sentence.

"It's the best we could hope for," he said.

Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou thanked the jury for "their equanimity, their professionalism and their dedication" while sitting through weeks of often gruesome evidence presented during the trial.

Papadatou hoped the sentence would help the community of Crowsnest Pass move forward.

"This chapter is now closed and it's time for the community to heal and to put themselves back together again," she said.

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