The Province

‘Brutal’ murderer’s appeal is rejected

- BY KEITH FRASER kfraser@theprovinc­­r

A vancouver man who beat a woman so savagely that she died with her face dislocated a murder conviction dismissed.

In May 2010, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Robert Michael Bennight, 59, guilty of the June 2007 seconddegr­ee murder of Denise Fabbro, 52.

The trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christophe­r Grauer, said he didn’t know how Fabbro, an intravenou­s drug user, came to be a guest in Bennight’s Downtown Eastside apartment, but added it was clear she accompanie­d him willingly.

After the beating, Bennight sat and watched while the victim clung to life. He then called 911 with a fabricated story of how Fabbro came to be in his apartment, said Grauer.

Fabbro was rushed to hospital but died on Aug. 11, 2007. She’d suffered severe trauma to her face, skull, neck and ribs. Most of the bones in her face were broken.

Grauer called it a vicious beating of “astonishin­g brutality” and sentenced Bennight to life in prison, with no parole eligibilit­y for 18 years.

On appeal, Bennight, who suffered a significan­t brain injury in 1983 as a result of a motor-vehicle accident, raised a number of issues.

He claimed that the trial judge made errors, including declining to allow him to challenge prospectiv­e jurors for bias against mentally ill persons, alleging the judge misunderst­ood the evidence about his mental-health condition.

But in a ruling released Thursday, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Elizabeth Bennett said “there was no reversible error made by the trial judge and I would dismiss the appeal.”

Bennett’s ruling was concurred in by Justice Peter Lowry and Justice Harvey Groberman.

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