‘The nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission are, to be blunt, horrific and brutal,’ says B.C. Supreme Court judge

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A man who was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend during a staged motor vehicle accident has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 15 years.

Jan Poepl, 34, pleaded guilty in December to the November 2018 second-degree murder of Nicole Hasselmann, 34, who also went by the name Nicole Porciello.

“The nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission are, to be blunt, horrific and brutal,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Ker said Tuesday in imposing sentence.

“Another descriptor sometimes used in the jurisprudence that is apt in the overall circumstances of this case is stark horror.”

Court heard that Poepl had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Hasselmann for seven years but that she had ended the relationship shortly before the murder because of his inability to control his temper. He had also been struggling with drug addiction and was physically abusive at least once.

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Hasselmann had also been seeing another man around the same time, a relationship that also came to an end, and Poepl became consumed with jealousy, telling her that she’d been disrespecting him.

On the day of the slaying, Poepl picked her up in a rental vehicle and stabbed her 47 times while she sat beside him.

He removed his bloody jacket before turning on his cellphone and taking a video following the attack. The disturbing video showed the victim, clearly struggling to breathe, trying to comfort him and saying she loved him. He responded by again telling her she’d disrespected him.

Nicole Hasslemann (Porciello) in an undated photo.
Nicole Hasslemann (Porciello) in an undated photo. Photo by FACEBOOK

The judge said that what was “astonishing” about the video was the “absolute lack of remorse” Poepl showed for a woman he purported to love.

Poepl returned to his residence, leaving the severely injured victim in the vehicle, and spent several hours doing a series of online transactions before returning to the vehicle.

He then drove the car at high speed into a power pole on the Barnett Highway. Hasselmann, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car.

The judge found that the primary sentencing principles in the case were denunciation and deterrence but added that she accepted that Poepl, who expressed remorse for his crimes during an apology delivered in court and had taken a number of programs in prison, had rehabilitation prospects.

The issue on sentencing was how long Poepl, who got the mandatory sentence of life in prison for second-degree murder, would have to spend behind bars before being able to apply for parole.

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The Crown called for a 15-year period of parole ineligibility while the defence asked for the minimum of 10 years. In deciding on 15 years, the judge cited several of what she called “extraordinary” factors including Poepl’s chilling and calculated approach to the offence.

Outside court, the victim’s father scoffed at the judge accepting that Poepl was remorseful.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” said Joe Porciello. “If he was remorseful, he would have showed a tear in his eye.”

Gina Iuliano, a cousin of the victim, was disappointed in the sentence, which she considered to be unjust.

“This has actually said to everybody, you can commit a crime like this and you could potentially be walking the streets in 15 years.”

kfraser@postmedia.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

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