The man who murdered Salmon Arm’s Andrew Gawley is appealing his conviction.
In 2011 Jamie Michael Cliff, then 36, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in jail without parole, a rare sentence he shares with only one other B.C. man convicted of second-degree murder, serial killer Robert Pickton.
A second-degree murder conviction usually carries a life sentence with a minimum parole eligibility of 10 years, while a first-degree conviction means an automatic minimum term of 25 years.
Calling the murders of 21-year-old Gawley and his 26-year old roommate Lana Marie Christophersen senseless, cruel and cowardly, in 2011 BC Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke said the murders fall into the worst group of offences and Cliff is a member of the worst group of offenders.
This past Friday, Dec. 12, Cliff’s lawyer appeared in the BC Court of Appeal in Vancouver to appeal the jury’s finding of guilty, saying the judge made errors in the trial that may have influenced the outcome.
Gawley was living in an apartment in East Vancouver in October 2008 at the time of the attack. A friend he was rooming with had moved out at the end of September and another friend was going to move in November. They placed an ad for a one-month rental, which Christophersen answered, saying she needed a place to stay for a month.
Gawley, a 2007 graduate of the Vancouver Film School, was working at World Vision at the time. He was described as an outgoing, likable, family-oriented Salmon Arm Secondary grad who didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs.
The jury heard that Cliff, a drug dealer, was angry at Christophersen, his former girlfriend, thinking she had stolen from him and had tipped off police about his operation. She had lived briefly with Cliff before moving out and was waiting for her own place to be ready.
Cliff came to the apartment, stabbed Christophersen to death, stabbed Gawley, who lay in bed, in the throat, poured gasoline on him, and then set him and the apartment on fire. Gawley managed to call 911 and let emergency personnel in, despite suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body.
He spent three months in hospital, gradually improving, before succumbing to an infection.
At the time of the sentencing, Darlene Gawley, Andrew’s mom, said she agreed with the judge’s description of Cliff.
“The whole idea of the brutality that went behind it was so unnecessary. It wasn’t bad enough to stab his ex-girlfriend once or twice, he had to stab her 19 times. It wasn’t enough he slit Andrew’s throat and stabbed him, he had to burn him too.”
Andrew’s parents couldn’t be reached for comment on the appeal.
At the time of the 2011 sentencing, Darlene said she and Andrew’s father Chris were glad the trial was over.
“It gives us a little bit of closure. It’s obviously not going to change, we still don’t have our son, and there are a lot of things we won’t be able to do without our son. At least having him (Cliff) in jail, it gives us a little sense of peace.”