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Retired Toronto firefighter killed wife with mallet

A judge who convicted retired Toronto firefighter Gregory Tkachyk of second-degree murder in the death of his wife has ruled he cannot seek parole for 14 years.

Tkachyk, now 63, surprised Jo-ann Hampson with a heavy metal hammer, hitting her more than a dozen times after she returned to her home on Densgrove Road in St Catharines with groceries from Walmart on May 27, 2020.

A second-degree murder conviction automatically carries a life sentence. The only thing for Superior Court Judge Joseph Henderson to decide in a St. Catharines courtroom on Thursday was how long Tkachyk must wait before applying for parole.

QC Tyler Shuster suggested 12 to 17 years; Jody Berkes, Tkachyk’s defense attorney, asked for 10 years, the legal minimum.

“The nature of the offense and the circumstances in which it was committed are aggravating factors that favor the Crown’s position for an extended period of time before parole,” Henderson said.

“MS. Hampson was beaten to death with a heavy hammer. Mr. Tkachyk inflicted several violent blows on Ms. Hampson, causing 28 separate injuries to her head and face, and fractures to her neck, ribs and forearm. She was left bleeding and disfigured.”

Henderson also found Tkachyk’s behavior after the offense an aggravating factor.

Tkachyk left his 67-year-old wife’s body in the basement for two days before contacting a friend. He also tried to hide the murder weapon.

Hampson had spent her 49-year nursing career at Niagara Health and was described in her obituary as a vivacious and fun-loving woman who enjoyed travelling, trying her luck on the ponies and sipping a nice glass of Chardonnay. The couple lived together in 1997 and married in 2014.

Psychiatrists diagnosed the defendant as suffering from a major depressive disorder with psychotic features and paranoid ideas. His mental and physical condition worsened after he was partially responsible for his resignation from the Toronto Fire Department, the court heard.

Hampson made several attempts to get help for her husband, including trips to a hospital’s emergency room and appointments with health professionals.

However, Tkachyk believed Hampson was planning to put him in a nursing home and take his money.

“Because of her relationship with Mr. Tkachyk, Ms. Hampson took on the role of caregiver,” Henderson said. “It was Ms. Hampson’s dedication to her caring role that led Mr. Tkachyk to make the pointless decision to kill her.”

Henderson accepted Berkes’ position that Henderson’s behavior should be viewed through the lens of his mental health issues.

However, Henderson had already stopped working on mental health issues that rendered Tkachyk incapable of knowing his actions were wrong — though he found his mental state had improved during his incarceration awaiting trial.

“I accept that his mental health issues contributed to his actions, but the fact that he tried to hide the murder weapon suggests he had some level of understanding of what happened.”

“I find the circumstances of the offense aggravating, but not as aggravating as they would be if Mr Tkachyk did not have mental health problems.”

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