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Crossbow killer gets life

Sam Pazzano, QMI Agency
Zhou Fang appears in court Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. (John Mantha, courtesy of CTV News)

Zhou Fang appears in court Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. (John Mantha, courtesy of CTV News)

TORONTO - Zhou "Peter" Fang was sentenced Tuesday to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for the minimum 10 years for murdering his father Si "William" Cheng with a crossbow and a hammer in a crowded Toronto public library in 2010.

Justice John McMahon said the Ottawa man and his mother, Nora - who attended the sentencing but sprinted away from reporters without making any comment - suffered what senior forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hy Bloom described as "one of the worst and most chronic child- and spousal-abuse scenarios he has ever encountered."

McMahon recited some of the litany of horrific abuse endured by the accused and his mom at the hands of the deceased, including threatening to cut off his penis for bed-wetting as a child.

Fang was neither criminally insane nor was he acting in self-defence when he committed the shocking crime that displayed some elements of planning and deliberation, McMahon said.

Fang was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder before, during and after what the judge described as a "brutal and savage" slaying of an unarmed Cheng, 52, as he stood at a bank of computers surrounded by innocent library patrons shortly after 4 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2010.

Fang drove from Ottawa to Toronto, using his own identification to rent a van, the day before the murder. He left the van running outside the library, ambushed his father, then slowly drove off but was apprehended without incident a short distance away, court heard.

Fang shot an arrow into his father's heart, then sprayed him with an aerosol can and crushed his skull with a hammer in front of shocked onlookers.

Fang, now 26, pleaded guilty in July to second-degree murder and will be eligible for parole in December 2020.

He and his mother suffered graphic abuse and degradation too obscene and depraved for any Hollywood script, court heard.

Bloom described the Fangs' abuse case as "one of the worst and most chronic child-and spousal-abuse scenarios he has ever encountered."

But a psychiatric assessment indicated Zhou Fang is "not predisposed to violence towards others" or criminal behaviour in general.

Fang was pinched on the cheek as a one-month-old and when his mom intervened, Cheng attacked her.

Later, he poured urine on his son, forced him to eat vomit and fish from the garbage, and choked the child in his sleep.

The father twisted the heads off Fang's pet birds "as punishment for his son making a charitable donation at school," said Fang's lawyer, Mark Sandler.

He outlined 22 pages of "the most extreme, physical, emotional abuse" heaped upon both Fang and his mom.

Cheng threatened to kill or cut out his wife's and son's tongue - and he chopped off a rabbit's tongue in their presence to emphasize the point - if they divulged their torturous lives, Sandler said.

Both of them were sexually abused by the twisted Cheng.

The wife was so viciously beaten by Cheng that she stopped working as a Toronto teacher.

The attack at the hands of her abusive husband left her temporarily blind, documents indicate.

"I stopped working because of the cruelty I suffered at the hands of William Cheng," wrote Fang, 51. "I was forced into hiding by Cheng."

In an unusual twist, a victim impact statement filed by the deceased's family in China wasn't read or filed in court as it was deemed inappropriate. A Toronto police officer who provided the interpretation said the family was seeking $1 million from the killer son, which is unacceptable for a victim impact statement in a criminal trial.