GRAPHIC WARNING: This story contains details that may disturb some readers.

KELOWNA, B.C. - A man who murdered his wife during an argument about his drinking then took his daughters to church before smothering them was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison before he's eligible for parole.

Jacob Forman pleaded guilty earlier this month to the second-degree murder of his wife Clara Forman on Dec. 17, 2017, and to two charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of seven-year-old Yesenia and eight-year-old Karina.

“He said (during a confession to police), he thought it would be better for them to go home to heaven than to grow up in a world where daddy had killed mommy,” Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay told B.C. Supreme Court during Forman's sentencing hearing.

Kaay said Forman killed his wife by hitting her with a sledgehammer. The court heard the woman's last words, after the second of three blows, were “What are you doing?”

After telling the girls to put on their pyjamas and letting them watch Netflix, Forman told his daughters he wanted to “play a game” with them, Kaay said.

First, he took eight-year-old Yesenia to her bedroom and choked her from behind. “He continued to choke her until her heart stopped,” Kaay said

Forman also used a child's toy, a horse's head on a stick, to apply pressure to Yesenia's throat, he said.

After murdering Yesenia, Forman killed seven-year-old Karina the same way, Kaay said.

Forman, who owned a .22 calibre rifle, then spent several hours contemplating suicide, but decided against it, the court heard.

Justice Allan Betton sentenced Forman to consecutive life sentences, 25 years without parole for the deaths of his daughters and 10 years without parole for the murder of his wife.

“This breach of trust of such young children, vulnerable and trusting of their father, was horrific,” Betton told the court.

Including the two years he's been in custody since his arrest, Forman will not be eligible for parole until 2051, when he is 68 years old.

The court heard Forman went to work as usual the day after the murders and bought cleaning supplies on the way home to try to remove bloodstains from the master bedroom, Kaay said.

When Clara didn't show up for work on Dec. 19, friends twice called the Forman's residence. On the first call, Forman said his wife wasn't feeling well, the court heard. The second time, he said Clara had left him and taken the children.

One of those friends called police, who went to the home and were denied entry as Forman told them Clara had left him, the court heard.

When police returned to search the home, the court heard they found the bodies in the garage.

Forman had originally pleaded not guilty when his trial began earlier this month. His defence lawyer said after the guilty plea that Forman believed his self-described acute alcoholism would offer him a defence.

In murdering his children, Forman demonstrated the “most egregious breach of trust imaginable,” Kaay told Judge Allan Betton.

“Mr. Forman killed his daughters in their own bedroom, which should be a place of safety.”

Forman's assertion that he killed his wife in a fit of anger and then murdered his children because he didn't want them to grow up knowing he was a murderer “can only be described as narcissistic and selfish to a degree which defies comprehension.” Kaay said. “He killed his children in a callous, cowardly manner.”

Defence lawyer Raymond Dieno had asked the court to impose a sentence of 25 years without chance of parole, the automatic term for a first-degree murder conviction.

By Ron Seymour, Kelowna Daily Courier