Martin Payne spread his kindness, love, compassion and gentle spirit to everyone he met.
As one of the men who murdered the 60-year-old father was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday (Dec. 15), Payne’s family and friends gave heart-wrenching statements about his joyous and supportive presence, but also described how they’d never recover from knowing his final moments were a “vicious butchering.”
James Lee Busch was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years for his role in the first-degree murder, which he committed with Zachary Armitage after the pair escaped Metchosin’s William Head prison.
Calla Payne said her father was a constant source of love and support, but the selfish actions of the two men have taken that away and altered her life forever.
The senseless loss of her dad impacts every aspect of her life as she struggles with PTSD and anxiety that makes her terrified that she’ll be killed whenever she walks through her front door.
“All I can do is hope, hope that in his final moments, he imagined us putting our arms around him, in a massive group hug – one last time – that that thought gave him the peace to take on everything that was happening in that moment and that freed him from all pain.”
The trauma she faces now will evolve in the future as she walks herself down the aisle or explains to her future children why they don’t have a grandfather.
“Ask me in 50 years, when I’m telling family stories to my grandchildren and have to include this deeply traumatic and terrifying story about what happened in July 2019 and how it has interrupted and changed our family forever.”
Calla said the two men unknowingly chose to take on a family that’s fiercely loyal to the ones they love and who will take on the men for the rest of their lives.
Payne’s sister Colleen was outside the home as officers first found his body. She’ll never forget the look on the face of the officer exiting the home and walking slowly over to her. She’s since felt disconnected, doesn’t socialize like she used to and wants to be alone. Colleen thinks of Payne’s murder every day, something she never thought could happen to her baby brother Marty.
“It’s a hole in my heart that can never be repaired.”
Family members expressed the mental anguish – marked by intense anxiety, panic attacks, depression and fear – they face when the thought of Martin’s last moments enters their minds. They struggle with not being there to help as he was met with “unimaginable terror” in the safety of his own home.
“This thought is unbearable for me,” his daughter Jessica said. “His murder was a betrayal of the cumulative joy that he gave to the world. He was a truly beautiful person who I hold in the inner depths of my heart and he did not deserve to die this way.”
Judge David Crossin, who presided over Busch’s trial, said he deeply regrets that the criminal justice system cannot take away the loved ones’ sense of loss, make them whole or bring Payne back. He then accosted Busch for extinguishing the life of a good man who was simply returning from work.
“It was a cold-blooded killing for reasons that escape me. But you didn’t just kill, you butchered and mutilated him and left him lying in his own blood,” Crossin said before sentencing Busch. “It was hateful, it was unspeakable.”
The friends and family said they’ll never be the same after losing Payne – a man with an exuberance for life, a hearty laugh and a kindness that permeated even while just chatting with strangers.
Jessica said her father was a kind, easy-going, gentle-hearted, thoughtful and playful man. He would brighten the day of anyone around him, always had her back and was the one who truly understood her.
“He had a way of making me remember who I am and encouraged me to love that person.”
Her dad’s dislike for air travel was no match for his need to visit her on the other side of the world, a flight Payne made multiple times. Payne gave Jessica a sense of self-worth that’s been difficult for her to recover since his life was taken.
“His care was so clear and so golden.”
She said their love was without complication and his presence brought her ease. Payne was always there to listen to her issues and shoulder the emotional burden in order to lessen its weight. They shared a love for nature that saw the two often staring at the horizon from a beach or mountain, usually while cracking jokes or taking a goofy selfie.
“He helped me feel grounded and connected to the world,” Jessica said. “My father was the joy, humour and positivity in our lives, he reminded me through his general outlook on life to look at the bright side.”
Jessica feels plagued by unshakeable apathy and like her life is half-lived since the murder. She struggles to feel connected or find passion or interest in things she once loved.
A large part of Payne’s ex-wife Catherine was “ripped away” and it felt as if she’d been hit by a truck when she heard of his death.
“I miss him every day. It’s an ache inside me, I want to be able to talk to him about our daughters,” she said. “My world is diminished.”
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