Teen girl's butcher appeals life sentence

Left: Whitney Van Der Wouden is pictured blowing out the candles on her 15th birthday cake in July...

Left: Whitney Van Der Wouden is pictured blowing out the candles on her 15th birthday cake in July 2008. Right: Kristopher Lavallee and Gregory Hepp pose for a photo at the campsite they were living at in Minnow Lake, Ont., in the spring of 2009. (Photos supplied)

Carol Mulligan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:36 PM ET

KAPUSKASING, Ont. -- A man sent to prison for life for helping kill, burn and dismember his 15-year-old girlfriend is appealing his adult sentence for the crimes he committed at age 17.

On April 27, 2009, in Sudbury, Ont., Whitney Van Der Wouden was choked, stabbed and dismembered, her remains set on fire with four litres of methyl hydrate before being buried.

Gregory Hepp, now 23, has been a model prisoner, earned a high school degree and university credits and participated in programs to deal with "issues" raised during his March 2011 trial, his lawyer, Brian Greenspan, argued in court last week.

While tried as a juvenile, he was sentenced as an adult, which means he will be on parole for the rest of his life after serving a possible seven years.

But Greenspan is asking the court for a break for his client, who wants to return to Germany, where he was born. Converting his sentence to a youth sentence would mean he serves one less year in jail and only three years' parole.

"Okay, you want a break and all of this stuff, but where did my daughter's break come in?" asked Paul Van Der Wouden, who now lives in Kapuskasing, Ont., and was not in the Toronto court for the proceedings.

"It was too macabre, too vicious (a crime) to say, 'Gee, you're a good boy, let's start over.'"

Van Der Wouden's daughter Hillary, 22, said she was sickened by what she heard.

"I don't think it's right. He's getting university courses in jail," she said. "Like living his life, moving on with his life, having a life -- and then there's my little sister, who's never going to have any of those chances to do any of that stuff.

"So, I don't find it's fair. It makes me sick to my stomach. I heard it on the news and I was like, 'Are you serious? They're giving him university courses. Really?'"


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