NEW WESTMINSTER – Amritpal Saran’s grieving family taunted Sarbjit Bains, daring the killer to look up at them as they read aloud their heartbreaking victim impact statements during his sentencing hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Thursday.
He didn’t. Bains, 34, hung his head.
The Surrey man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Saran, a Delta resident, and to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors in New Westminster.
Saran, 29, was killed in February 2013, and Nabors and Lyons were killed nearly six months later, in August.
Saran’s charred body was found in the 12100-block of Colebrook Road in rural Surrey on Feb. 24, 2013.
Then, on Aug. 12, 2013, Lyons’ body was found in her apartment in New Westminster. Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 25, Nabors’ body was found inside her apartment, in the same complex where Lyons lived.
During a press conference last year Supt. Kevin Hackett of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said video surveillance and security cameras played a “crucial, key role in securing evidence” against the accused.
Bains had originally been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the cases of Lyons and Nabors, and second-degree murder and committing an indignity to human remains in Saran’s case. Bain’s girlfriend, Evelina Urbaniak, 36, is serving two years less a day and three years probation for committing an indignity to Saran’s remains.
Saran’s younger sister, Simrit Saran, described her brother as “an amazing son and a wonderful older brother.
“He was a wonderful kind man,” she said. “The type of person you could call at any time of the day, and he’d be there for you.
“Amrit was full of life and energy.
“God did not give us the power to take someone’s life away,” Simrit said, as her grieving mother Jatinder Saran embraced a large framed photo of her boy at the RCMP press conference last year.
“To the cowards that did this to our Amrit, you must have thought you got away, but this is just the beginning,” Simrit said. “Your suffering starts now.”
Justice Miriam Maisonville is expected to reserve her decision to a later date.
Bains will serve an automatic life sentence for the murders and the Crown and defence have agreed that he should have to serve 18 years in prison before he’s eligible to apply for parole.
Meantime, Crown prosecutor Crichton Pike argued for a 10 year sentence for the manslaughter, to be served concurrently.
Pike described to a packed courtroom Thursday how Saran met his end. He said the Delta man had been drinking and doing cocaine with Bains and Urbaniak in the couple’s Whalley apartment. The court heard Urbaniak went to bed, and the men stayed in the living room. At some point Bains went to the bathroom, returned to an empty living room, found Saran climbing into bed with Urbaniak and “something snapped.”
Bains put Saran in a chokehold, and soon he was dead on the floor. Pike said Urbaniak, panicked and in shock, wanted to call police but Bains said no. Deciding to dispose of his body, the couple bought two blue Rubbermaid bins at the Walmart in Guildford, and a five litre gas container at Esso, then returned to the apartment. There, they stuffed Saran’s body into a bin, duct-taped the other one on top, dragged the bins to the elevator and down to Urbaniak’s car.
They drove to Colebrook Road, where Bains laid Saran’s naked body on its back, poured gas on the corpse and set it on fire.
Pike said a grandmother was practising driving with her grandson on Colebrook Road when they found Saran’s body, “extensively and diffusely burnt.”
Saran’s family placed framed photographs of the victim in front of Bains, who was sitting in the prisoner’s box.
“Mr. Bains, you have the right to look at me as I read this,” challenged grieving mom Jatinder Saran, as she prepared to read her victim impact statement.
“He brought joy into my life,” she said of her first born. When the police arrived at her door to tell her her son had been killed, she said, “My whole world turned upside down. I went cold in shock.
“I didn’t want to live in my body any more,” she told the court. “How am I supposed to live a normal life after learning my child was set on fire?”
Bains, dressed in red prison clothing, continued to hang his head.
“My life was beautiful until you took my son away,” she told him.
At one point, Arsh Saran, the victim’s younger brother, yelled at Bains, “You caused this!”
Simrit Saran then read her victim impact statement.
“Look up Bains,” she challenged. “You took a life away.
“You want to look up for this part, buddy?” she said, as she described the cremation.
“To you he was nothing. For us, he was everything.”
She told Bains it was on her 25th birthday when she got to see her brother’s body.
“I will never forgive you,” she said. Bains continued to hang his head.
“Why don’t you turn around and look at everybody now, tough guy?”