Last month, I shared about my friend’s son, Andrew Gawley, who was viciously attacked and 83% of his body burned, and passed into Jesus’ arms 3 months later in January 2009. Before this attack, the perpetrator also attacked and killed his ex-girlfriend Lana who had been renting a room from Andrew. Three days after the attack, the police went to an apartment for a completely unrelated call to locate a man wanted on an outstanding warrant for breach of parole. The man who answered the door claimed to be the wanted man. At the same time, policemen working downtown said they had found the man wanted for breach of parole. So the police officers wondered who the guy was that was lying to them. They found out his real name and discovered they had a homicide suspect. He was arrested and it was noted that he had some burns on his arms which tied him to the explosion in Andrew’s room. The attacker was a gangster and drug lord from the “Independant Soldiers” a division from the Hells Angels. Apparently they were too crazy and dangerous for the Hells Angels. This man (Jamie Michael Cliff, 34) had been convicted for manslaughter in 1998, and in 2004 pled guilty to assault causing bodily harm to his then girlfriend in North Vancouver, BC. At the time of the attack he was in violation of his parole and should have been in prison.
In April to June 2013 the trial of Jamie Michael Cliff commenced. There was a lot of ponderous details to get through so we didn’t attend all of it. Jamie claimed innocence and his story was that he had been in trouble with some drug dealers who had followed him to the apartment and attacked all three of them (Jamie, Lana, and Andrew), and only he was able to run away. He claimed they had tried to burn him as well which is why he had burns on his thighs and left hand. We prayed for the truth to come out in the trial. The most difficult parts were when they played the recordings of Andrew’s taped testimony and the 911 phone call. To hear his voice and once again replay the horrific incident was heartbreaking.
It is very difficult to forgive someone who has done something so horrendous to someone so dear to you. It is by God’s grace and power and strength that we have His forgiveness to be able to forgive this man for what he has done and leave his punishment in the justice system and God’s hands. We forgave and prayed for his salvation. To the very end, he showed no remorse, only defiance.
Matthew 5:44-45 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
God answered our prayers abundantly. The jury unanimously voted him guilty and left the sentencing to the judge. The judge stated Jamie’s guilt and the truth that he came into the apartment with the knives and gas can in his duffel bag with the intent to kill. He sentenced him to 25 years in prison with no parole. This is a groundbreaking sentence in Canada, only convicted serial murderers have experienced it.
How did this all happen? It started with Lana and Jamie. Lana came from Alberta to live in Vancouver with a friend. She got involved in drugs and was hooked. She and her boyfriend had a son and the boyfriend was arrested for drugs and went to jail, and she went home for awhile. But she came back and once again got into drugs, methamphetamines. Jamie met her and offered her drugs if she would move in with him. She left her son with his father’s family and moved in with Jamie. She sold stolen items on Craigs List (an online sales site) for him and took care of the house and him. He kept her supplied with drugs. In the summer of 2008, apparently he beat her up for over 12 hours. He also was on the run from the police who were after him. He left for Victoria, Vancouver Island to escape for awhile, and Lana moved out of the house into Andrew’s apartment for the month of October 2008. Somehow, although he had abused her terribly, she picked him up when he came back and took him to a drug house where he stored some of his stuff. He picked up his weapons, and they went back to the apartment in the middle of the night.
The tragedy of the story of Lana and Jamie is the choices she made and where she ended up. Lana chose drugs which affected most of her choices thereafter. How can we help our youth to make the right choices, to say “NO” to drugs? Speak up and speak into the lives of the youth around you!