08/20/2013 01:20 EDT | Updated 08/20/2013 04:15 EDT

Uthai Dechawiwatm Sentenced To 37 Years For Death Of Calgarian Leo Del Pinto


Leo Del Pinto's killer is going to jail for a very long time.

Uthai Dechawiwat, a former Thai policeman, was sentenced Tuesday to 37-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of Del Pinto, a Calgary man who was shot dead in a Thailand bar in 2008.

According to the Calgary Herald, Dechachiwat's sentence will run consecutive to a 25-year sentence he previously received for the murder of his 18-year-old, pregnant Thai bride.

Del Pinto, 25, died after being shot in the face and chest in the town of Pai in January 2008. His friend, Carly Reisig of British Columbia, was also hit once in the chest but survived.

Dechachiwat claimed he and Del Pinto had gotten into a scuffle and he was acting in self-defence. No locals would come forward and give evidence against police.

An investigation, however, proved there was a deliberate police cover-up, reports Global News, and that the head of police may have persuaded witnesses to tell lies about what they saw.

Dechawiwat, who was off duty at the time, initially pled not guilty, but changed his plea last week.

The reason for the change is not known, but Del Pinto's father, Ernie, has an idea.

“This man pleaded guilty at the last minute to avoid the death sentence, just as he did when he murdered his wife,” Ernie, who travelled to the Chiang Mai courthouse for verdict and sentencing, told the Calgary Herald.

"I'm lost without my kid," he told the Canadian Press. "It was a senseless death. It's just so frustrating."

"We know he will be in there for a long time and in fact he's probably going to die in prison."

Reisig told Metro Calgary she receives "constant reminders" of the shots that hit her and killed Del Pinto five-and-a-half years ago and at times finds it "really hard to stay positive."

She moved to a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island, admitting that since the incident she has secluded herself from society.

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