Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Jane Gadd
Courts Reporter

Prostitute admits to killing

Stabbed Parkdale man to death in 1998 after he refused to pay her, court told

You could say Barbara Willimott was born under a bad sign.

Both her parents were legally blind, her father was a drug and alcohol abuser, and Barbara was put up for adoption as a newborn.

There were no takers, so when she was nine months old her grandmother agreed to look after her. But the elderly woman could not protect the child from physical abuse inflicted during visits by her drunken father, and when Barbara was nine years old she was put in foster care.

She bounced from foster home to foster home for the next six years, began drinking alcohol as a preteen and found her way at 15 into a world of prostitution and cocaine abuse from which she has never emerged.

Yesterday, Ms. Willimott, now 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the stabbing death of an elderly man whom she said was a customer who refused to pay for sex.

"She has a very sad personal history," Mr. Justice Michael Dambrot of Ontario Superior Court said yesterday as he sentenced the weeping woman to 7 ½ years in addition to the 212 years she has already served awaiting trial.

But Judge Dambrot said Ms. Willimott's personal deprivations, her "sorry criminal record" stuffed with prostitution, drug and theft charges, and the three sexual assaults she has endured in her life were not enough to deter him from sentencing her in the higher end of the range for manslaughter.

There were too many aggravating features, he said: She left her victim to bleed to death, she attempted to cover her tracks, and she tried to frame another woman.

On April 29, 1998, Ms. Willimott went to an apartment in a senior citizens building in Parkdale, according to an agreed statement of facts read out in court by Crown lawyer Lisa Henderson.

She says she went there to provide a paid sex act for Pravdonic Paul Kletecka, 66.

A sex act was not confirmed by forensic evidence, the Crown said, but it appeared that Ms. Willimott and Mr. Kletecka got into a dispute over payment for sex.

Ms. Willimott, a heavy-set woman, pinned Mr. Kletecka to a chair with one hand and held a kitchen knife to his throat with the other, demanding money.

She then stabbed him three times in the chest and left him gasping and moaning on the floor while she wiped the surfaces in the apartment, cut the telephone cord and left with the knife and the glass from which she had been drinking.

It was what she did next that robbed her of any chance of clemency, both the Crown and lawyer Paul Layefsky agreed.

Ms. Willimott, who is white, attempted to pin the blame on a black woman whom she knew lived nearby.

When interviewed by police acting on a tip the night of the stabbing, Ms. Willimott claimed she had seen the woman running from the apartment. Later, she helped police locate the woman.

"Fortunately this woman co-operated with the police and they were able to corroborate her [alibi]," Ms. Henderson told Judge Dambrot. Also fortunately, a friend of Ms. Willimott's, James Money, went to police a day later and informed them Ms. Willimott had confessed to him that she committed the crime.

The Crown said it is possible Ms. Willimott chose to set up a black woman because of racial prejudice. She had told Mr. Money she did not like the woman, Ms. Henderson said.

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Created: December 19, 2000
Last modified: January 19, 2001
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