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Toronto Serial Killer Who Preyed On Gay Men Pleads Guilty To Eight Counts Of Murder

A Canadian landscaper accused of sexually assaulting, killing and dismembering men he met over seven years has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Bruce McArthur, 67, admitted the killings during a court hearing on Tuesday in Toronto.

Many of his victims had links to Toronto's Gay Village neighbourhood, a predominantly gay neighbourhood in the downtown area.

The men were killed over a seven year period from 2010 to 2017, many of whom were South Asian or Middle Eastern immigrants and not out to their families.

Bruce McArthur's victims.

There were whispers of a serial killer targeting the community for years, particularly following the disappearance of McArthur's last known victim, Andrew Kinsman, 49, in June 2017. It prompted questions as to why police didn't act sooner, with at least one queer group calling for a third-party investigation.

Haran Vijayanathan, executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), called for an external investigation into how the Toronto police force handles missing person cases.

"Why did it take ten years?" he asked outside the courthouse after McArthur's guilty plea.

McArthur was arrested in January 2018.

Bruce McArthur was a regular in Toronto's gay scene. Photo: Facebook.

Prosecutor Michael Canton said he planned and deliberated each of the murders, and six were sexual in nature.

Canton said McArthur kept souvenirs from the victims, including jewellery.

Police last year found the remains of seven of the men in large planters at a property where McArthur had worked and used as storage.

Investigators sift through compost looking for human remains in the back area of the Mallory Crescent property. Photo: Getty.

He had an agreement with the residents to store his landscaping equipment at the home in exchange for free lawn care.

Karen Fraser, one of the owners, told CTV News Toronto she felt "violated" by McArthur's actions, and that they were not the work of the man she knew.

“We call it ‘Bruce A’ and ‘Bruce B'," she said.

"‘Bruce A’ was a man who seemed to have made decisions about his life and was very happy with it. He enjoyed his job. He enjoyed his clients."

Bruce McArthur appearing via video in a Toronto courtroom in April, 2018. Photo: AAP.

The city planted trees to prevent erosion in the ravine where the property was excavated.

“They chose trees that belong here. The major trees, there’s eight of them to represent the victims,” she said

During a search of McArthur's home, police found a duffle bag with duct tape, a surgical glove, rope, zip ties, a black bungee cord and syringes.

The remains of the eighth victim were found in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.

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The sentencing hearing is expected to take place on February 4, when friends and relatives will be able to give victim impact statements.

Each of the first-degree murder charges carries an automatic life sentence, which means McArthur will not be able to apply for release until he is 91.

According to his guilty plea, McArthur murdered:

  • Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, over Labour Day weekend in 2010
  • Abdulbasir Faizi, 42, in December 2010
  • Majeed Kayhan, 58, in October 2012
  • Soroush Mahmudi, 50, in August 2015.
  • Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, in January 2016
  • Dean Lisowick, 47, in April 2016
  • Selim Esen, 44, in April 2017
  • Andrew Kinsman, 49, in June 2017

McArthur, who once worked as a shopping centre Santa, was married in the mid-1980s, and has two children -- a son and a daughter -- with his ex-wife.

Bruce McArthur as a shopping centre Santa. Photo: Facebook.

However, by 1999, he was living in Toronto and living as a gay man, reports CBA. He struck up a relationship with the first of his victims, Skandaraj Navaratnam, in that year, which lasted until at least 2008.

On Halloween in 2001, he attacked a man with a metal pipe in Toronto, and was handed a two-year conditional sentence in 2003. It stipulated he was to stay away from a section of Toronto that included the Gay Village, stay away from male sex workers, and not use amyl nitrate, otherwise known as poppers.

His arrest -- and the length of time for which he preyed on the gay community -- has prompted calls for answers as to how he was able to get away with his crimes for so long.

Haran Vijayanathan. Photo: Getty.

Toronto Pride voted this year to ban police from attending the annual parade, three months after the organisation lifted a ban.

Gary Kinsman, activist and spokesperson for the No Pride in Policing Coalition which was behind the successful vote against police inclusion, accused the force of repressing members of the community.

"This is not the time to insist that the police be allowed back into Pride," he said.

"If the police really want to be allowed back into Pride, they have to earn it. They have to show that their practices have changed, and there's been nothing significant of any sort that has shown that."

With AAP.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au