Guy Smith received a total sentence of 11 years in prison for killing and dismembering Likely area resident Gary Price, almost six years after the crime.
Smith, 58, who appeared by video from prison, was convicted of manslaughter and indignity to and interference with human remains in the death of Price following a lengthy seven-week trial over 11 months in 2017 and 2018. He learned Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 in Williams Lake Supreme Court that he will spend just over five and half years more in prison.
“Mr. Smith struck Gary Price with a significant degree of force that was sufficient to push the bones of his skull into his brain,” Supreme Court Judge Marguerite Church said at sentencing. “Mr. Smith struck Gary Price with a second blow, despite the fact the initial blow would have rendered Mr. Price unconscious.”
Price suffered a broken nose, and three fractured ribs near the time of his death, indicating other violence beyond the two blows to his head that caused his death, Church added.
Church said evidence at the trial indicated Price had agreed to help Smith move, that the two men purchased significant amounts of alcohol when last seen together at the store in Likely, but there was an absence of evidence about the assault and the mental state of Smith at the time.
As for the indignity to remains charge, Church described Smith’s actions as “abhorrent,” and said she chose a sentence that was in the upper range.
“He demonstrated complete disregard for Mr. Price by desecrating his body and concealing it in such a way that it was not discovered for 19 months,” she said of the fact Smith placed Price’s dismembered body in a nearby well on the property across the road from where he was living at 6363 Rosette Lake Road in Likely.
Smith also “misdirected” search evidence in the police investigation, Church said.
“He did so in order to avoid detection.”
The discovery of Mr. Price’s remains after 19 months and the state of those remains further “exacerbated pain and loss” to Mr. Price’s family who had reported him missing to the RCMP on March 3, 2013.
“This court must denounce his crime and send a message to like-minded individuals that serious crimes of violence will attract serious convictions,” Church said.
Outside the court room in Williams Lake Price’s brother Bill Price from Prince George and brother-in-law Russell Reese from Gibsons reacted to Smith’s sentence.
“Actually we wish it was 10 times as much, but he didn’t get away with it, that’s the biggest thing,” Bill said. “Seeing it all through the courts, it was actually a relief to see that the system actually does work sometimes.”
Reese said, “we feel — especially the way the police handled it, the judge, the prosecution, everything — it was great.”
During her sentencing report, Church said the family had conducted ground searches and even hired a helicopter to search for their brother.
They also attended the trial which saw 60 witnesses testify.
Church said evidence at court showed Price and Smith had known each other for many years prior to Price’s disappearance and it was clear that their relationship had not been without difficulties, but there were times when their relationship was “cordial.”
“At the time of his death the relationship was friendly as Gary Price had agreed to help Mr. Smith move from his residence.”
Several witnesses testified the two men had a loose business relationship with respect to a mining claim that eventually ended when Smith sold the claim and Price did not receive any of the proceeds, despite Price’s assertion that if the claim was sold he would receive a share, she added.
At the time of his death, Price was 60 and lived alone in a remote one-room cabin on the shores of Cariboo Lake, 40 kilometres from Likely, with his cat and some chickens.
He worked intermittently caretaking a nearby resort in the summer and collecting trail fees for the Powder Kings Snowmobile Club in the winter.
In Smith’s sentence, Church also stipulated that Smith will be required to give bodily samples for DNA analysis while in custody.
He will be prohibited from possessing a firearm, ammunition and explosives for a period of 10 years after release from prison, and any prohibited firearm, restricted firearm, prohibited weapon, prohibited device, prohibited ammunition for life.
Supreme Court Judge Marguerite Church originally sentenced Smith to seven and a half years for manslaughter and three and half years for indignity to human remains, but credited Smith with time-served because he has been in custody since he was arrested in May 2015.
Church said seven and half years for manslaughter was appropriate in the case, considering the aggravating factors.