Well-liked B.C. businessman's killer should get 10 years, court told

John McIver was found dead inside a Vancouver appliance-repair business he had run for 50 years.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge is hearing sentencing submissions in the murder of a Vancouver businessman. | JANIS CLEUGH/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

The man who pleaded guilty to killing long-time local Vancouver businessman John McIver should be sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 10 years, B.C. Supreme Court heard July 22.

John McIver was found dead inside his South Vancouver appliance-repair business in June 2019. He had run the business for 50 years.

Brian Roger Holt, a former employee of McIver's, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of the 78-year-old, who was found dead by a family member.

Justice Kathleen Ker heard agreed statement of facts presented to the court by Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe and defence lawyer Jim Heller.

McCabe said Holt had worked at McIver’s Appliance Service and Sales, located near Ontario Street and East 69th Avenue, between 2010 and 2015. His employment ended after a heated argument.

Before that, McCabe said, Holt had been a frequent guest of the McIver family.

Just prior to the death, Holt had been issued an eviction notice from his landlady, McCabe told the court.

The Crown lawyer said Holt left his Logan Street home June 26, 2019 with an imitation Glock handgun and was caught on multiple cameras as he made his way to McIver’s business.

He confronted McIver and demanded money for his years of work at the company.

The discussion became heated, court heard; Holt picked up a window or door crank and hit McIver repeatedly in the back of the head.

"'We got to arguing and it got physical,'" McCabe said Holt's confession to police. "'I lost control. I snapped. I hit him a lot.'"

McCabe said McIver continued to argue, which angered Holt.

The prosecutor said Holt then picked up a piece of machinery and again struck McIver on the back of the head. Holt then took a heavy gauge cord and used it to strangle McIver while standing on his back, McCabe said.

Holt took McIver’s cash and cards, which he tried to use at two banks. Later that day, he paid his landlady $600.

An autopsy found McIver has sustained multiple blunt-force injuries to his head and two fractured vertebrae as well as other injuries.

Holt then wiped his hands with a rag that he took with him. He discarded his clothes, the fake gun and the rag in either the Fraser River or a portable toilet, McCabe said.

The next day, Holt told his father what had happened and they began to seek a lawyer.

Holt was arrested on July 3, released and re-arrested on July 23.

“The next day, Mr. Holt confessed to killing Mr. McIver,” McCabe told the judge.

McCabe said Holt’s only injury was a cut to a finger. However, that cut left blood at the scene. Police were able to identify it as Holt's.

Ker heard multiple victim impacts statements from McIver's family.

Son Derek McIver said how Holt killed his father was "horrific." He called his father a hero who always did his best for family, friends and customers.

Sister Maureen said her former calm demeanour has been replaced by distrust and anxiety in the wake of her brother's death.

The case continues as lawyers make sentencing submissions.

Ker said she had hoped to pass sentence July 22 but decided to hold off after reading the impact statements.

“Reasons need to be crafted that are thoughtful, especially in a case like this,” Ker said.