A B.C. Supreme Court justice has agreed with lawyers’ recommendations that one of two men who shot Alexander Blanarou of Surrey to death in 2017 be sentenced to a 14-year jail term.
Justice David Crossin issued his ruling Friday afternoon (Feb. 10) in Vancouver against Edrick Raju, 24.
Raju pleaded guilty last October to manslaughter with a firearm and conspiracy to commit murder.
At his sentencing hearing on Thursday (Feb. 10), the lawyers for both sides recommended that Raju receive eight years on the conspiracy charge and 14 years for the manslaughter, to be served concurrently.
After given credit for time already served, Raju’s remaining jail term is 11 years, two months and 15 days.
Blanarou, 24, was shot to death on Dec. 28, 2017 in the 5300 block of Bateman Road in Abbotsford. Police arrived on scene to find his body face-down in a nearby blueberry field.
Crossin said Raju conspired with others to execute Blanarou that day because they believed Blanarou had played a part in the killing of one of the conspirators’ brother.
Crossin said Raju lured Blanarou to drive with him and another person to a rural area under the pretence of purchasing drugs from Blanarou.
Another man drove while Raju was in the passenger seat and Blanarou was in the back. Raju had a loaded firearm on him.
They were followed by two other vehicles with members of their group. As they drove along Bates Road, Raju turned around and fired two shots into Blanarou’s abdomen.
Blanarou managed to escape from the moving vehicle, as did Raju, who disposed of his weapon, Crossin said.
But another man, Islam Nagem, chased after Blanarou and shot him. Crossin said the group drove off, leaving Blanarou for dead.
Crossin described Raju’s actions as “a serious and, frankly, profoundly cowardly act” that has left Blanarou’s family with a lifetime of heartache and grief.
But he agreed with statements made Thursday by defence lawyer Hovan Patey, saying that Raju has made great strides in trying to turn his life around, including being certified as a firefighter before his arrest in late 2020.
He said Raju also has strong community and church support, and his remorse seems to be “heartfelt and genuine.”
Crossin said it appears that the killing was an isolated act that was out of character for Raju, and he hopes that the positive path he is on continues into the future.
“But the collateral damage that the accused has left in his wake is palpable in the courtroom,” the judge said.
Crossin said 14 years is an appropriate sentence in balancing both the mitigating and aggravating factors in the case.
Raju was one of three men charged in the case.
Michael Schweiger, 33, was sentenced Jan. 24 to a four-year jail term on a charge of accessory after the fact to manslaughter. The court heard that he drove the get-away car from the scene and participated in other actions to cover up the killing.
Nagem pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm, and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.