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Six-year sentences for pair who killed man, burned body

Shakib Shakib and Brandon Nandan killed Branson Sanders in Surrey and dumped body in Burnaby.
Branson Sanders

The family and friends of a 20-year-old man who was killed in Surrey before his body was dumped and burned in Burnaby feel his killers have gotten away with murder.

Brandon Nandan and Shakib Shakib were handed six-year jail sentences Thursday in Surrey Provincial Court after admitting last year to killing their acquaintance, Branson Sanders in 2011.

"It's kind of lenient, I think, for what really happened," said Sanders' mom, Hannele Sairanen. "I guess we can murder people and destroy the crime scene and it's okay."

Nandan and Shakib, who are now both 21, were initially charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter late last year. Both Crown and defence had recommended six-year sentences for the pair.

In delivering his sentence Thursday in Surrey Provincial Court, Judge Michael Hicks called the killing a "senseless crime," saying Sanders died under "the most fearful of circumstances."

He said no sentence he imposed could replace the loss Sanders' family feels or fill the void his death left.

During a sentencing hearing late last month, the court heard how Sanders was lured to Nandan's home in Cloverdale and ambushed in the basement by Shakib, who stabbed him with a machete.

A witness said he heard Sanders say "Please bro, I'm gonna bleed out."

The Crown presented cellphone records showing the two accused had planned the confrontation in the days prior to Sanders' death in what appeared to be a drug-related dispute. All were involved in the drug trade.

After the stabbing, the court heard, neither Shakib or Nandan tried to help Sanders, and after his death, they removed the bloodied flooring in the house and repaired any damage to destroy any evidence of the killing.

Sanders' charred remains were found in a Burnaby park in December 2011 by a passerby.

In a victim impact statement, Sanders' mother spoke of her "precious" only child and how his death had left her "forever inconsolable."

Nandan faced Sanders' friends and family in court last month and apologized. Shakib submitted a letter to the judge. Hicks said he believed both were remorseful and showed good prospects for rehabilitation.

Outside court, family and friends of Sanders expressed their dissatisfaction with the sentences.

"We didn't get what we wanted, by any stretch," said Annie Storey, whose son was best buddies with Sanders. "But now it's time to heal."

Shari Blanthorne, whose family lived for years in the same complex as Sanders, said the murder destroyed the community.

"For them to be able to walk away from this at some point like it never happened just seems wrong," she said.

With one-to-one credit for time served, Nandan, who was free on bail until now, has about five-and-a-half years of his sentence remaining, while Shakib, who has been in custody, has about five years, three months remaining.

A third man, who cannot be named because he was a young offender at the time of Sanders' death, also pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the case. His sentencing is scheduled for April 15.

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