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B.C. girl’s killer sentenced to life after father airs grief in court

The father of the 13-year-old girl killed in a Burnaby, B.C., park in 2017 recounted the harrowing ordeal of losing his daughter in front of a packed courtroom at B.C. Supreme Court, where Ibrahim Ali was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Ibrahim Ali sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years

Killer Ibrahim Ali stuck his fingers in his ears as he listened to the father of his victim speaking about the impact of his daughter's death.

On the day his daughter was born, the father trembled as he held her tiny ear to his left chest.

A nurse told him not to be afraid: "Her daddy's heartbeat would tell her not to be frightened — and that daddy would protect her so she wouldn't cry," the father recalled.

He recounted the memory Friday for Ibrahim Ali, the man who killed his daughter when she was just 13 years old, before a judge sentenced Ali to life in prison.

The father said he was now a man transformed by grief, torn apart by regret, haunted by a promise he felt he had failed to keep.

"I want to tell my daughter that Daddy is timid, cowardly, powerless," said the father, whose name is protected by a publication ban in place to conceal the identity of his daughter.

"Daddy couldn't actually protect you at all."

'I didn't kill this girl,' Ali maintains

The father detailed his harrowing ordeal in a videotaped statement played in a courtroom at B.C. Supreme Court that was packed for Ali's sentencing.

The victim impact statement, which lasted nearly an hour, was the last of seven presented before Justice Lance Bernard gave Ali a mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole for 25 years for killing the girl in a park in Burnaby, B.C., in 2017.

Ali appeared via video link in red prison sweats from a cell at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, B.C. He paced the barren room, occasionally sticking fingers clad in black gloves into his ears while the father spoke.

Given a chance to address the court himself, the killer — a Syrian refugee — appeared agitated as he spoke through an interpreter — denying his guilt.

"I didn't kill the girl; I didn't go to the park," he said.

"I didn't kill this girl. This is unfair."

Father 'had to climb over the wall to leave' cemetery

A jury convicted Ali of first-degree murder last December after hearing evidence that he crossed paths with the teen in Burnaby's Central Park, dragged her into the woods and then sexually assaulted her before strangling her.

The father recalled going to his daughter's grave the night the verdict came down.

"I stood in front of [her] grave and told her that the culprit had finally been convicted. I stood there and protest to her that Daddy didn't fail his responsibility," he said.

The father said he stayed so late into the night, pouring his heart into the ground where his daughter's body lay, that the gate to the cemetery was locked when he went to leave.

"I had to climb over the wall to leave."

The father's statement came after a string of victim impact statements from relatives and friends that painted a picture of an immigrant family and a community forever changed by the murder.

The father said the family came to Canada because of China's one-child policy. The girl was born in this country when the mother was 40 years old.

The father said he went back and forth between Canada and China for work, managing to spend only days each year with the daughter he treasured.

"I had thought she would grow up and there would be plenty of time to love her," he said.

'Last words have a lot of meaning,' brother says

The girl's mother was too distraught to prepare a victim impact statement. Her son — the victim's older brother — said his mother's health has declined and she has lost most of the sight in one eye. He said doctors blame depression and sadness.

The brother said his last communication with his little sister was a text. She loved anime comics, he said.

"Our last conversation through text was on the subject. However, to my eternal never-ending regret and shame, I was less than enthusiastic about having the conversation with her because I was preoccupied with work at the time," he said.

"Last words have a lot of meaning, and mine to her were dismissive, uncaring and everything that I shouldn't have been. And there's no way I can ever take it back or make it up to her."

The brother's wife spoke of his struggles to sleep, and the brother talked about his fears of the "very real monsters" he knows exist.

The father said he also has trouble sleeping. He said flight attendants have woken him on planes, concerned that his loud shouting has scared the other passengers.

The father concluded his statement by noting that the "mountain" of grief caused by his daughter's death will "burden my family and me until we leave this world."

"I hope all parents in the world can protect their children," he said. "And that they will no longer have to feel the sorrow of parents burying their children."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and the justice system extensively.

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