A Surrey man who beat his 61-year-old mother to death and assaulted his wife while heavily intoxicated and in severe psychotic depression has had his prison sentence reduced by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Sukhvir Singh Badhesa, 39, had been sentenced to 1o years in jail for manslaughter and 18 months for assault causing bodily harm, consecutive but on appeal the court reduced those to seven years and one year, respectively, also consecutive.
Badhesa had originally been charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge. On appeal his lawyer argued that the trial judge had failed to sufficiently consider Badhesa’s “depressive mental illness” in assessing his moral blameworthiness.
“The appellant contends the judge imposed an unfit sentence because he gave too little weight to the appellant’s mental illness and overemphasized deterrence,” Justices Lauri Ann Fenlon and Gail Dickson noted in their reasons for judgment, posted Feb. 26.
“Taking into account the nature of the offences and the circumstances of this offender, in our view fit sentences are seven years imprisonment for the offence of manslaughter and one year’s imprisonment for the offence of assault causing bodily harm.”
As it was before, these are to be served consecutively. Justice Richard Goepel concurred.
Both crimes happened on the same evening, in Surrey. The court heard Badhesa had no prior history of violence.
“By all accounts, he deeply loved his family members, centred his life around them, supported them, and managed domestic disagreements in an entirely peaceful way,” the judges wrote. “According to his wife, he is a kind-hearted person who cherished his mother and never had angry outbursts, under the influence of alcohol or otherwise. Nor was he jealous, suspicious or accusatory. However, he did have a history of serious depression.”
Badhesa had been drinking heavily for four days leading up to the March 20, 2016 killing and assault, drinking vodka, scotch and beer. The court also heard he’d been smoking opium.
He became angry with his 35-year-old wife, accusing her of cheating, and accused his mother, who lived with them in Whalley, of arranging to marry his brother “into a bad family,” an arrangement which he believed led to his brother’s “difficulties” and eventual death in June 2015.
The court heard Badhesa punched a hole in a wall, and broke drinking glasses. His wife, mother and two daughters aged seven and one ran to another part of the house and he followed, whipping her with a USB cord and hitting her with a shoe, all in front of the eldest daughter. When his mother tried to stop him, he followed her into a bedroom and attacked her with his fists and feet. She died of blunt force trauma to her head and body.
Badhesa then beat his wife some more. The judges noted that she and their daughters ran downstairs to a basement suite rented by another family, who called police who arrived in 10 minutes to find Badhesa banging on the door of the suite. The police tasered him. The court heard that as he was being transported to the jail cells, the court heard, Badhesa went from being sad and crying to yelling and upset and happy and talkative.
“The appellant has little or no memory of the day in question.”
The Crown sought a sentence of 13 years for both crimes combined, while the defence argued for four years, which is a federal sentence, that would essentially be provincial time of two years less a day after Badhesa got credit for time served. The 11.5 year sentence imposed actually worked out to eight years and nine months, taking into account the pre-sentence custody.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Rakesh Lamba testified that Badhesa was “largely amnesiac” of the crimes and at times experienced nihilistic delusions, auditory hallucinations and “perceptual disturbances.”
The appeal court judges noted that specific deterrence does not play a significant role in determining a fit sentence for an offender who is “out of touch with reality.”
Badhesa, they found, suffered from a “diagnosed mental disorder that interfered with his ability to reason, compromised his volitional and decision-making capacity and contributed to his state of self-induced intoxication, which attenuated the degree of his moral culpability.”