While Canada's crime rate continues to tumble — the homicide rate, for example, hasn't been this low since 1966 — this year saw no dearth of stories that stirred intrigue, outrage and even horror. Here are five stories that captured the country's attention in 2014.
In this photo provided by Montreal Police, Luka Rocco Magnotta is guided into a waiting van after arriving from a Canadian military plane on June 18, 2012, in Mirabel, Que.
Luka Magnotta's name erupted in both national and international headlines after a series of packages containing body parts were shipped to the headquarters of political parties in Canada in May 2012.
He was named a suspect in the killing of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin and arrested at a cyber-cafe in Berlin the following month. Fittingly, the sometime model and escort was looking a photo of himself released by Interpol at the time of his arrest.
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In December of this year, after nearly 11 weeks of testimony, Magnotta was convicted and given an automatic life sentence for first-degree murder. The judge allowed no possibility of parole for 25 years. He received an additional 19-year-sentence for four other convictions.
Diran Lin, father of Jun Lin, speaks to the media in Montreal on Dec. 29, 2014. (Photo: Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Dennis Oland, charged with second-degree murder in the death of his father, leaves a preliminary hearing in Saint John, N.B. on July 14, 2014. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
The killing of business magnate Richard Oland didn't garner nearly as much attention as the Magnotta case. But it certainly served up its share of intrigue in 2014 — and, with recent developments, promises much more in 2015.
The 69-year-old, a member of the family that owns Moosehead Breweries, was found dead in his office in Saint John, N.B. in July 2011.
Reports, still unconfirmed, suggested he had been bludgeoned with an axe.
Nearly two years passed before murder charges were laid against his son, Dennis Oland, in November 2013.
According to Maclean's magazine, the younger Oland had lived under a "cloud of suspicion" during those two years. His family, however, stood stalwartly by his side.
Dennis Oland and his wife Lisa leave the Law Courts in Saint John, N.B. on Dec. 12, 2014. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
"We know that he will be found innocent in an objective and fair process in a court of law," his mother, wife and sisters declared in a statement released after his arrest.
But it wasn't until December 2014 that Dennis Oland, 46, was formally ordered to stand trial for his father's killing after a long preliminary inquiry.
Again, the 46-year-old's family rallied to his side, releasing this statement:
"Throughout this ordeal, our faith in him continues to be absolutely unwavering. We are devastated that we will have to endure a trial but we know Dennis will be found innocent in an objective and fair process in a court of law."
Dennis Oland is scheduled to enter a plea in court on February 2, 2015.
Jennifer Pan was convicted of the first-degree murder of her mother and attempted murder in connection to the shooting of her father. (Photo: York Regional Police)
Few crimes hit Canadians so close to home as the suburban saga surrounding 28-year-old Jennifer Pan from Markham, Ont. Pan was at her parents' house when masked men reportedly stormed in, demanded cash and then shot her parents, Bich Ha Pan, 53, and Hann Pan, 60.
Initially, investigators approached the case as a home invasion gone awry. Pan's mother died that night. But her father survived. And his statements to police suggested an even darker possibility.
Police theorized that Pan had conspired to kill her parents for a $1 million inheritance. She had exhorted her boyfriend Daniel Wong and his friends to commit the deed.
Weeks after the killing, she was arrested.
And, on Dec. 13, 2014, she was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of her mother as well as the attempted murder of her father.
According to the Toronto Star, Pan's immigrant parents drove her hard to succeed — pushing her into competitive figure skating, piano lessons at an early age and demanding top grades throughout school.
The Star reported that Pan began faking her education, forging documents and hiding her relationship with boyfriend Daniel Wong.
“At that moment I thought my family was happy,” her father, Hann Pan testified. "I love my daughter ... I wanted the best for her."
Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman sits in the defendant's chair prior to the start of his trial hearing at South Jakarta District Court in Indonesia, Dec. 2, 2014. (Photo: Tatan Syuflana/AP)
Much farther from the suburbs of Ontario, a Canadian teacher finds himself in a nightmarish battle abroad.
Neil Bantleman is accused of sexually assaulting three students in a politically charged case that resonates from Jakarta to Ottawa.
In July, police reportedly arrested Bantleman, along with his Indonesian teaching assistant at the Jakarta International School. Their arrests followed charges against school janitors — parents had claimed their boy was sodomized. Bantleman and his assistant were accused of assaulting two more students.
From the outset, Bantleman has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.
According to CBC News, he is still employed and supported by the Jakarta International School — despite being incarcerated since July. Indeed, CBC adds, some 100 parents and teachers form the school community descended on the courthouse to show their support.
And that support is just as vehement at home, where Bantleman's family has loudly petitioned the Canadian government to intervene — a plea which, so far, has fallen on deaf ears.
The Bantleman family notes that the parents of one of the victims only complained to police after failing to reach a legal settlement with the school.
Bantleman, right, kisses his wife Tracy prior to the start of a hearing at South Jakarta District Court, Dec. 2, 2014. (Photo: Tatan Syuflana/AP)
The trial of Neil Bantleman has, however, only just begun. The opening session, a gruelling 11-hour hearing, took place on December 23.
"To get to trial, to be able to defend yourself against these accusations is a positive," Bantleman's brother, Guy Bantleman told The Canadian Press. "What is daunting are the lack of not-guilty verdicts that occur through the judicial process in Indonesia and the lack of evidence that has got us to this point."
Company staff walk past storage lockers in Winnipeg, Oct. 21, 2014. (Photo: Canadian Press)
A Winnipeg storage locker vaulted to international headlines this year, perhaps qualifying as the darkest corner of 2014.
That's where police arrived on Oct. 20, after workers at a U-Haul storage facility complained of a strong stench emanating from one of the lockers.
In all, officers would discover six dead infants in that locker — a number that was initially difficult to determine due to the condition of the bodies, the Canadian Press reports.
Days later, a 40-year-old Winnipeg woman named Andrea Giesbrecht was arrested and charged with six counts of concealing a body. The nature of the crime, however, remains to be determined. According to police, it could take months to learn how and when the infants died. Or even the relationship of Giesbrecht may have had with the deceased.
Likewise, there is not enough information to charge Giesbrecht with murder. Even the ages of the dead have yet to be determined.
“One is mummified,” Giesbrecht’s lawyer, Greg Brodsky, told the National Post.
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