10/25/2017 13:09 EDT | Updated 10/28/2017 13:24 EDT

Parents of murdered Montreal store clerk speak at sentencing hearing

MONTREAL — A young woman who was murdered as she worked in a busy Montreal grocery store was a luminous, loving and peaceful girl whose life was stolen, her parents said during sentencing arguments Wedneday.

"You were ripped from us," Nathalie Beaulieu and Luc Patry said as they remembered Clemence Beaulieu-Patry, 20.

They asked that a photo of her be projected on a screen in the court and they frequently broke down in tears as they delivered their emotional victim impact statement.

Randy Tshilumba was convicted by a jury last Friday of premeditated murder in the stabbing death of Beaulieu-Patry in April 2016.

The jurors rejected the defence's argument the accused was not criminally responsible for his actions.

Tshilumba pleaded not guilty and testified he acted in self-defence because he believed Beaulieu-Patry wanted to kill him and other people in the store.

During the sentencing arguments, Beaulieu-Patry's parents told the court they have trouble sleeping and haven't worked since the murder.

"We so want to see your smile...touch your hair," Beaulieu said through tears. "The house is empty without you."

Later in the day, Quebec Superior Court Justice Helene Di Salvo handed Tshilumba an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole before 25 years.

"Her name was Clemence, she was 20 years old and she had her entire life ahead of her," Di Salvo said before reading out the sentence.

Beaulieu and Patry attended every day of the trial and Di Salvo hailed their "courage and dignity."

They said that while the process was traumatizing, the verdict brought them some peace.

"If in 25 years we're still alive, we'll be there to oppose his bail," they promised.

Several of the victim's friends also spoke on Wednesday.

Some said they had become fearful about sleeping at night; others spoke of losing confidence and of the void caused by Beaulieu-Patry's death.

— With files from Pierre Saint-Arnaud