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B.C. man hid teen's body under bed for 2-3 days, court hears

David Alexander Mah pleaded guilty Oct. 19 to offering an indignity to a human body. He was not charged with the teen's death.
The judge has reserved her decision but it could come as soon as June 28.

A B.C. man who hid a teen’s body under his bed for several days, drove it from Vancouver to Prince George and then dumped the body in a culvert should be jailed two years, a judge heard June 13.

David Alexander Mah, 50, pleaded guilty Oct. 19 to offering an indignity to a human body.

He was not charged with the male teen’s death nor was there evidence presented he was responsible for it. “The facts are that Mr. Mah did not do anything to cause the death,” defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen said.

In sentencing submissions to Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Susan Sangha, Crown prosecutor Alan Ip suggested the jail time and three years’ probation while Verdurmen advocated for a conditional sentence order.

The charge was that between Oct. 15, 2016, and Nov. 1, 2016, Mah improperly or indecently interfered with or offered an indignity to a dead human body or human remains.

The court heard that Mah and the teen met on the social media app ‘Grndr’ and met to have sex. It was the only time they had met.

“They did not know each other,” Verdurmen said.

The court heard Mah found the youth dead in his bed after the encounter. He then put the body under the bed for two to three days, Ip said.

Glacier Media has chosen not to name the youth. Almost two dozen of his family and friends filled the small courtroom Thursday. Some had come from overseas.

“They are all victims in this case,” Ip said.

Ip said Mah then rented a car and drove to Prince George with the body in the trunk for four days. He had driven there on the pretext of taking medication to a friend, Sangha heard.

It was after leaving Prince George that Mah dumped the body in a culvert near Lytton, Ip said, noting it was done “with self-preservation in mind.”

The prosecutor told the judge Mah told a psychiatric evaluator that he disposed of the body near a road so it could be found to provide closure.

Verdurmen told Sangha his client’s response was to panic rather than to report the death to police. “That would incite panic in anybody,” he said.

“He did in fact choose a selfish route and denied the family closure,” Verdurmen said. “He didn’t do what was right.”

The Crown argued a conditional sentence order, including house arrest as proposed by the defence, “is not appropriate in this case.”

Ip said such a sentence would fail to recognize the gravity of the case and its impacts on the teen’s family and community.

Ip said Mah had not acted in the moment. “He took deliberate and planned steps.”

“He deprived the family of closure,” Ip said.

And, Ip said, “(Mah’s) only concern is the impact incarceration will have on him. He says incarceration would destroy his life.”

He said Mah lacked empathy and remorse.

Ip said the investigation took five years, involved 65,000 documents and employed 84 ‘Mr. Big’ operations.

The apology

Mah faced the teen’s family and friends in court Thursday as he read an apology.

“My actions were inexcusable,” he said. “There is no justification for what I did.”

“I am truly sorry for the pain I have inflicted on your family,” he said.

Verdurmen said Mah had a difficult early life with alcoholic parents, has twice attempted suicide and dealt with sexual abuse by his mother. And, he has had drug abuse issues, problems Sangha was told are behind him.

Verdurmen said Mah’s substance abuse began when he was 18 and has involved ketamine, party drug GBH, ecstasy and LSD.

“He was certainly using the GBH at the time of the offence,” Verdurmen said.

Verdurmen disagreed with Ip’s suggestion Mah lacks empathy.

“I think perhaps he lacks some ability to express it,” he told Sangha.

The judge has reserved her decision but it could come as soon as June 28.