A Surrey man who strangled his wife to death two years ago, hid her body inside the hollow wooden frame of their son’s bed and reported her missing has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
Kamaljit Singh Dhanoa, 35, was sentenced by New Westminster Supreme Court Justice Terry Schultes Friday (July 20) afternoon.
However, because Kamaljit was given double credit for the two-and-a-half years he’s been in custody, he will only spend another two years, five months in jail for killing his wife Tejinder Kaur Dhanoa.
Kamaljit was initially charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in April .
The court heard earlier in the day that the couple met through an arranged marriage in India in 2000. From the outset, said Crown prosecutor Craig Yamashiro, the relationship was “marked by consistent conflict and stress.”
Shortly before Tejinder’s Jan. 5, 2010 death, she was upset because her husband was sending money to his sister in India. Kamaljit’s defense lawyer Richard Peck said neither of them particularly liked the other’s family.
Tejinder, 32, threatened to leave Kamaljit and take their young son and daughter with her.
Kamaljit hadn’t slept for two days and took five of his dad’s sleeping pills. The couple argued more and Tejinder went to bed with the children. Once they were asleep, Kamaljit took one of the kids into another room. When he returned to get the other, he was intercepted by Tejinder, who pushed him.
Tejinder’s family members cried in court as they heard how Kamaljit then wrapped his arm around his wife’s neck and squeezed her from behind. She struggled, scratching at his face. Within two minutes, blood coming from her nose and mouth, she stopped breathing.
Kamaljit wept by his wife’s lifeless body before wrapping it in plastic, unscrewing the box frame of his son’s bed, and placing her corpse inside.
He then drove around town for several hours and crashed into a fence hoping to commit suicide. Unsuccessful, he returned home, telling his family the scratches on his face were from falling after the crash.
By then, the family realized Tejinder was missing.
Kamaljit washed his shirt of her blood and called police to report her missing. He also called her friends, pretending to look for her. The RCMP searched the couple’s home near 130 Street and English Place in Newton but failed to find Tejinder. Later in the day, they asked Kamaljit to come to the police station to provide a photo of his wife.
They proceeded to interview him for six hours, during which time they asked him what he’d say if his son asked “Dad, did you kill mom?”
Within seconds, Kamaljit confessed.
In a victim impact statement read in court by Yamashiro, Tejinder’s father said the family’s world has been destroyed.
“That was the day my spirit died forever.”
Both he and his wife said they witness their grandchildren’s’ sorrow daily, knowing they will never again feel the love and warmth of their mother.
Two of Tejinder’s sisters also submitted statements, one calling herself a “broken person,” and the other saying her life is “like being lost in a black and white world.”
Tejinder’s son, now nine years old, wrote about how much he missed his mother and felt sad when other kids’ moms came to school.
“I want to play with my mom. She loved me and my sister very much,” said the boy.
Sitting in the plexiglass prisoner’s box, Kamaljit, with a full beard and white head scarf, wiped tears from his face upon hearing his son’s words.
Later, he stood in court and issued an apology to the Tejinder’s family and “above all” his kids.
“It was my mistake,” Kamaljit said. “I wish I could go back in time and change those two seconds of my life.”
He said he is working to forgive himself, but even if he does, won’t forget what he’s done.
Peck said Kamaljit, who has no prior criminal record, has taken several courses to better himself in prison, has a dedicated job, and has never applied for parole.
“Is he an evil person? The answer is categorically no,” said Peck.
The Crown had recommended a sentence of seven to 10 years, while the defense asked for five to 7 years.