July marks 4 years since inmates escaped William Head prison, murdered Metchosin man

July marks 4 years since inmates escaped William Head prison, murdered Metchosin man
(Submitted photo)
Martin Payne's (right) two daughters, Jessica (left) and Calla (centre).

It’s been four years since two men escaped from William Head Penitentiary and murdered a Metchosin man, rocking the small Vancouver Island community.

Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch escaped from William Head Penitentiary on July 7, 2019.

One day later, the pair broke into the home of mail carrier Martin Payne. When Payne returned from work, the pair attacked him, bound him, and eventually killed him.

The pair were later caught in Victoria, after the men commented on an off-duty police officer’s dog.

Armitage and Busch appeared in trial for the first-degree murder of Payne in 2022.

The jury found Busch guilty of first-degree murder, while Armitage dropped out partway through the trial and changed his plea to guilty of the same crime.

Both men were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

During Busch’s sentencing hearing, Payne’s daughters described their father as a loving and supportive man whose death now haunts them.

“My trauma will change on an hourly, daily, yearly basis for the rest of my life,” said Calla Payne.

“Ask me in a few years, when I have to walk myself down the aisle. Ask me in a few years when I have to explain to [my kids] why they don’t have a grandfather,” she said. “My father could have been anyone.”

Before Armitage was sentenced, he addressed Payne’s family and apologized for the pain he had caused.

“I wish I could take it back, I really do,” he said at the time. “I’d give my life for his.”

Following his sentencing, Payne’s sister, Colleen Payne, said she believed Armitage’s apology was sincere.

“All the words he said to us, I think, really did come from his heart, and he regrets what he did. It’s really nice to know that. It helps,” she said.

With files from CHEK News’ Kori Sidaway and The Canadian Press

SEE ALSO: Metchosin waiting for permission to use emergency alert system for prison breaks

SEE ALSO: Family of Metchosin man allegedly murdered by escaped inmates sues prison

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story identified Colleen Payne as Martin’s daughter. She is, in fact, his sister. CHEK News regrets the error.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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