NEW WESTMINSTER - A Surrey man who strangled his wife and then hid her body inside their young son's bed has been sentenced to seven years and six months in prison.
Justice Terry Schultes sentenced Kamaljit Singh Dhanoa, 35, on Friday afternoon at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. The Crown argued for a prison term of seven to 10 years and the defence, five to seven.
Dhanoa also received double credit for the time he'd already served in custody while awaiting trial. That means he'll actually be serving two years and five months more in jail.
Originally charged with second-degree murder, Kamaljit pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, for killing his 32-year-old wife, Tejinder Kaur Dhanoa, at the couple's home at 13058 English Place, on Jan. 6, 2010.
During the sentencing hearing Friday Crown prosecutor Craig Yamashiro noted that the couple's decade-long marriage, which was arranged in India, had at the outset been "marred with consistent conflict and stress."
They lived with their two young children and Kamaljit's mother and fathering their Newton house.
Kamaljit owned a framing business and was the sole breadwinner. The court heard Tejinder was angry after learning he had been sending money to his sister in India and told him she'd leave with the kids if he didn't cut ties with his family.
"She also said Dhanoa would never see his children again," Yamashiro said. The court heard Kamaljit told her he'd leave instead, and then kill himself.
He then asked for one last night with their son, 6, and daughter, 4. After the children went to sleep, the couple started arguing and Tejinder pushed Kamaljit two or three times in the chest. Kamaljit then grabbed her from behind, wrapped his arm around her neck and squeezed. Within two minutes, she collapsed.
Yamashiro noted that Kamaljit Dhanoa then committed the "terrible indignity" of wrapping his wife's body up in plastic garbage bags and tape then stuffing it inside the wooden box frame of their son's bed.
Feeling suicidal, Kamaljit took off and crashed his Nissan Armada into a fence. Surviving that, he drove back home and fell asleep on his couch. He later claimed the scratches on his face, which his wife did during their struggle, happened during the crash.
Later that day he called 911 to report Tejinder missing and police searched the couple's residence but didn't find her body or anything to indicate a struggle had taken place.
But during a six-hour interview with police, at the Surrey RCMP detachment, Kamaljit cracked after a corporal asked him what he'd say to his young son if the boy asked him, "Dad, did you kill mom?"
"Within seconds he confessed," Yamashiro noted.
The prosecutor read excerpts from five "heartfelt and sorrowful" victim impact statements filed by the victim's father, mother, two sisters and her son. Her dad said the family's world has been "turned upside down and destroyed.
"I feel so much pain," he wrote.
"I feel like crying so loud that my voice reaches God," her mom said. "Darkness has come upon me and changed my life forever." Her eldest sister said she's in so much emotional pain it's difficult to breathe, while Tejinder's youngest sister said her heart is shattered.
The boy, now 9, also penned a victim impact statement, lamenting his mom's absence at school field trips, and her not being there to pick him up at the end of the day. "I feel sad," he wrote. "Why did he take my mom away from me and my sister?"
After hearing this, Kamaljit Dhanoa dabbed his eyes with a Kleenex. His lawyer, Richard Peck, noted that a psychiatrist found his client to be a low risk for future violence. "His remorse is genuine," Peck said. "There's no subterfuge here.'
"It was totally out of character."
From the prisoner's box, Kamaljit Dhanoa made a statement, though much of it was inaudible.
"I wish I could go back in time," he said. "My mistake caused a lot of pain...I'm sincerely very sorry for what happened."
Schultes said "specific deterrence is not really necessary in this case," finding that Kamaljit really loved his wife and is suffering the loss of his relationship with his children.
"He is capable of resuming a productive role in society," the judge said. He added, however, that it wasn't lost on him that it "takes time and determined effort to strangle someone to death."
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