Jessica and Calla Payne can’t help but smile when they remember their dad, 60-year-old Martin Payne of Metchosin.
“He was a wonderful man, he was very sweet, he was very gentle and caring and loving, he always put his family first,” said Martin’s daughter Jessica Payne.
Martin Payne was murdered at his Metchosin home in July 2019. Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch, who had escaped William Head penitentiary around the same time, have since been charged with first degree murder in Payne’s death.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody it’s a terrible thing to lose someone in such a traumatic and shocking and horrific way,” said Payne’s other daughter Calla Payne who currently lives in Hong Kong.
While the criminal trial for Armitage and Busch is expected to begin this fall, with jury selection Oct. 6, the sisters have also filed a civil claim. It alleges Corrections Service of Canada (CSC) officials acted with “negligent disregard for the circumstances, including the inmate’s history of violence and the significant possibility they would escape from a low-security facility.”
“Their placement in William Head to begin with is the start of the problems that led to this really unfortunate tragedy,” said Payne family lawyer Neil Chantler.
“I think this is such an important case because the details of this tragedy really rattled the public and one of the things we hope to do is try to restore the public’s confidence in the Correctional Service of Canada.”
The suit also alleges CSC’s response to the escape was “reckless” in that it took too long to notify both police and Metchosin residents, like Payne who lived eight kilometres from the institution.
“Our father was a tremendous man and we know that his death was preventable, we feel that CSC made mistakes that led to his death,” said Jessica.
CSC has not yet filed a response to the civil suit but referred CHEK News to a 2020 Board of Investigation review of the escape saying all recommendations made in the report have since been implemented.
While Payne’s family hopes the legal action will bring answers and prevent a similar tragedy from happening to another family they say neither the civil suit nor the criminal trial will give them the one thing they want the most—their father back.
“I just hope the people who knew our father remember him as the person that he was, the goofy weirdo the loving human being that he was, and we really appreciate all the people who have reached out to us and shared stories with us about him,” said Jessica.
“At the end of the day this is something that never should have happened and we just want to make sure it never happens again and that no other family has to experience what we’ve gone through, and we will continue to go through for years, for our entire lives,” said Calla.
None of the allegations again Armitage, Busch or the Correctional Service of Canada have been proven in court.