MURDER SCENE: A Halton Regional Police detective lifts up the yellow police tape for Laura Mackasey, of the Oakville and Milton Humane Society, as she carries a dog from the scene of a murder investigation in an industrial unit at 1244 Speers Rd. in February 2011.

MURDER SCENE: A Halton Regional Police detective lifts up the yellow police tape for Laura Mackasey, of the Oakville and Milton Humane Society, as she carries a dog from the scene of a murder investigation in an industrial unit at 1244 Speers Rd. in February 2011.

Jeffery Craig sat silently in the prisoner’s dock in a Milton courtroom today as Justice Bruce Durno handed him a life in prison sentence with a minimum of 14 years before eligibility for parole for the murder of Oakville’s Brian Watson.

While Craig remained calm, several members of his family, including his wife, broke into tears at hearing the justice’s judgment.

The 34-year-old Burlington resident has already spent 17 months in pre-trial custody.

Craig will serve the mandatory life in prison sentence. He has also received a lifetime weapons ban.

“Regrettably, no sentence that I impose can turn back the clock,” Durno told the court.

On Feb. 20, 2011, Craig turned himself in to Halton police and gave a full confession just days after Watson’s body was discovered inside JW Custom Creationz, a unit in a light industrial complex on Speers Road, west of Fourth Line.

Earlier this week, court heard that Craig entered the shop with a .44 caliber Magnum handgun and then shot Watson twice in the body and once in the head.

Craig, who was suffering from an opiate addiction of the time, was buying oxycodone from Watson. Craig had also paid Watson a sum of money to do work on his motorbike at the shop. There was a dispute between Craig and Watson over the completion of the work, issues relating to money and drugs.

After the shooting, court heard that Craig removed a memory chip from the shop’s surveillance video system, which may have provided a video account of what occurred inside. There was nobody else in the shop at the time of the murder.

Crown John Dibski had asked the court for a 16-17 year sentence, while Craig’s lawyer, Eugene Jack Bhattacharya, asked the court for a 12-year sentence.

Bhattacharya told the court that Craig was consumed by his addiction and focused his frustrations on Watson by deciding to kill him; something he has since admitted was a cowardly act. Bhattacharya said Craig is showing an effort to rehabilitate and has apologized to the victim’s family.

The Crown told the court the victim had been developing a relationship with his estranged son.

He said the gun Craig used is one depicted in Dirty Harry films of the 1970s, a powerful and deadly handgun, one that Craig brought loaded, expecting a confrontation and that each of the three shots were considered fatal.

Dibski admitted that by turning himself in, confessing, showing officers where he had hidden the weapon and pleading guilty were mitigating factors for Craig’s sentencing. However, he said there were some inconsistencies in his confession; he had removed the security chip from the shop that, under normal circumstances, would have revealed what occurred that day. He said it deprived the victim’s family of knowing what happened in the shop.

Dibski said Craig chose to immerse himself in the drug subculture, despite his education and family support.

Durno said the sentence sought by the Crown was too heavy, while the one sought by his lawyer too light.

Durno said he accepted Craig’s remorsefulness and that he had a strong family support system, including from his wife. The couple has two children.

However, a clear motive was never made available in court for the murder and Watson’s death has affected his own family members.

“This senseless killing has had and will continue to have a devastating impact on Mr. Watson’s parents and son,” Durno said.