A painting of Adam Kargus is carried into the London courthouse by his sister, October 6, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

‘I Honestly Didn’t Mean For This To Happen’

The man who violently beat his cellmate to death in a horrendous attack at London’s provincial jail has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for ten years.

Anthony George, 32, repeatedly apologized to the family of Adam Kargus during his sentencing hearing Friday at the London courthouse. George pleaded guilty last month to second degree murder in the October 31, 2013 death of Kargus, a 29-year-old Sarnia man, at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Center (EMDC).

“I feel sad, sad for the family. I honestly didn’t mean for this to happen,” George told the court.

George stressed Kargus was his friend, a man he “treated like a brother.”

“I will never be able to repay what I’ve taken from you guys. I am truly sorry,” George said directly to Kargus’ family, many of whom openly wept in the courtroom.

The family of Adam Kargus walk to the London courthouse for the sentencing of his killer. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

The family of Adam Kargus walk to the London courthouse for the sentencing of his killer. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Prior to his apology, the court heard of George’s long battle with alcoholism. The Kettle Point First Nation man began drinking at age 11 following his parent’s separation. When he was 12 years old, George found his mother hanging from a rope in the basement of their home and still struggles with her death. He blames alcohol for the crimes that have seen him in and out of jail since 1999.

“That’s what gets me into trouble all the time,” George said.

Throughout his lengthy time in custody on unrelated charges, George was segregated from the other prisoners. He was kept on lockdown for 24 hours a day, often in windowless cells with no access to treatment programs.

Once back in the general population, George became the “brew master,” crafting alcoholic beverages for the inmates. He made the alcoholic drink in a toilet bowl using mashed up and fermented fruit. There was no way to gauge its alcoholic content.

The night Kargus was choked, punched, kicked, and stomped to death, George had consumed a large amount of the jailhouse brew and smoked a cigarette laced with PCP. He told the court a prison guard would not allow him to make a phone call, which enraged him. Although he maintains he blacked out during the beating that claimed Kargus’ life, George believes it was this rage that triggered the deadly attack.

Justice Bruce Thomas referred to Kargus as a “captive in a cage,” an “inmate who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time” that night.

The beating of the 29-year-old, began after he was locked inside a cell with George and lasted over an hour. By the end of it, Kargus was unrecognizable. Once the cell was unlocked the following morning, George dragged Kargus’ bed sheet wrapped bloody body to the showers where it was found by guards.

“To suggest the murder was brutal is an understatement ,” said Thomas. “Adam Kargus did not stand a chance.”

Kargus’ mother, Deb Abrams told the court the emotional and physical toll her son’s death has had on her over the past four years. She described an inability to work, nightmares, and stomach issues.

“I love my children deeply. I have never raised a hand to them or spanked them. I would have gladly taken that beating to save my son any pain and save his life,” said Abrams during her victim impact statement.

Shane Kargus. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Shane Kargus. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

She then turned to face and speak directly to the man who snuffed out her son’s life.

“Anthony, as a mother, I forgive you,” said Abrams “I do forgive you, as a mother, so I can move forward.”

In a low voice, George responded “I don’t forgive myself.”

Kargus’ aunt Tina McCool was less forgiving though. She vowed to be a fixture at all of his parole hearings in the future.

“I never want to see you on the streets again,” said McCool.

“I struggle with forgiveness,” she said before walking out of the courtroom in tears.

In addition to the life sentence, a lifetime weapons ban has been imposed on George. He also must submit his DNA to the national database.

Since the spring of 2016, George has participated in 25 treatment programs at the Sarnia jail, many for alcohol and anger management. He is working to earn his high school diploma and intends to study for a degree, but did not specify in what subject.

Speaking outside of the courthouse after the sentence was handed down, Kargus’ brother Shane told reporters he was happy the four-year ordeal had finally ended.

“We can finally get some closure. I know I got a little bit of closure today… but it is still going to be a long process of recovery,” Shane Kargus said.