A judge in Barrie delivered scathing words on Tuesday, as he sentenced a Washago woman to life in prison for the murder of an elderly man who was drugged and burned alive.

Margaret Lee Cole, 50, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 82-year-old Richard Humble, who died after being pulled by neighbours from his burning home in Washago.

In delivering the sentence, Justice Guy Di Tomaso told Cole in front of a packed courtroom that she spun a “Web of deceit, lies, and betrayal to gain Mr. Humble’s trust, and then kill him for his money”.

The trial heard that Cole, who was initially a caregiver for Humble, then befriended him and gained access to his financial and legal documents. The court also heard that she then rewrote his will and forged his power of attorney documents, before drugging him and then setting fire to his house when the drugs didn’t kill him.

Justice Di Tomaso called the murder “shocking and appalling”.

“Most gruesome and repugnant is the manner in which Mr. Humble died,” he told the packed courtroom.   “He did not die quickly.  He suffered horribly from burns, from head to foot”.

A letter from Humble’s elderly sister in England was also read to the courtroom during the sentencing.

“My brother was my best friend,” wrote Joyce Humble.  “When I first heard about his death I was devastated, but when I learned how he died, I was heartbroken”.

Cole was previously the target of an arson investigation when her own home burned to the ground and she received a $500,000 insurance claim. Arson was never proven in that case.

It’s not clear if Cole will be able to apply for early parole under Canada’s former “faint hope clause”, which was removed from the Criminal Code after the murder.

If she is found to be eligible, her application could be made in 15 years, when she is 65-years-old.  If she is not eligible, she would have to wait an additional 10 years to apply for parole – at which time she will be 75.