METRO VANCOUVER — Surrey teen Ranjit Gill cried out to his mother just before his stepfather Mahendra Singh shot him to death on Father’s Day 2009.
“Mommy, mommy,” the 15-year-old can be heard saying in Punjabi to his screaming mother Sukhwinder on an audio-tape Singh made of the murder.
The tape captures the sound of the murders of Ranjit and his brother Amarjit, 17, as well as the near-beheading of Sukhwinder. It was played Friday at Singh’s sentencing hearing in New Westminster Supreme Court.
Some spectators had to leave because of the disturbing recording, which starts about 46 minutes before the murders with Singh laying out his grievances against his new wife.
“This lady, she gave me such a hard time, a hard time,” Singh said in English as the recording began. “I have no other option so please forgive me.”
The 68-year-old pleaded guilty in June to two counts of second-degree murder for the boys’ deaths and one of attempted murder for brutally beating Sukhwinder and slashing her throat.
The 38-year-old widow and single mother married Singh in India in 2005 and moved with her boys to Singh’s Newton townhouse in September 2008.
But the marriage soured and the trio was on the verge of moving out when Singh went on his murderous rampage.
Defence lawyer Russ Chamberlain objected to the tape being played, saying his client has already accepted responsibility for “killing those two children and ... injuring his wife.”
But Crown Don Wilson said as unsettling as the tape was, it was necessary to play it to demonstrate to the court that the double slaying was completely unprovoked.
After his remarks in English, Singh can be heard making several more comments in Punjabi before walking around the townhouse making preparations.
Right before Amarjit was shot in the chest as he slept, Singh is heard cocking his Winchester rifle and pulling the trigger.
Next there were several blood-curdling screams — some male and some female — as Singh entered the second bedroom and killed Ranjit right in front of his mother.
Ranjit died instantly, Wilson said.
His mother can be heard wailing on the tape as loud thuds began. Wilson said the thuds are the sounds of Singh beating Sukhwinder in the head with the rifle butt. She begged him in Punjabi to spare her, but several more smacking noises followed and then it was quiet.
Singh can be heard saying “That’s it” in English.
The townhouse sounded quiet afterward for several minutes except for Singh’s heavy breathing.
Then Sukhwinder started moaning and quietly cried.
Wilson said Singh left his battered wife to call 911 and then returned to slash her throat with a kitchen knife and beat her some more. In all, the beatings lasted 20 to 25 minutes, he said.
Singh can be heard muttering several more comments in both English and Punjabi, almost inaudibly.
The arrival of police is also captured on the tape.
Wilson argued that Singh should get a life sentence with no hope for parole for 20 years — twice the legal minimum eligibility period.
He told Justice Lynn Smith on Friday that the horrific events of June 21, 2009 were beyond comprehension. And he said Singh had shown no remorse or regret for the devastating slayings and attack.
In fact, Singh laughed and smiled at one point Friday as Wilson described the difficulty in his marriage before the murders.
Wilson said Sukhwinder, who continues to live in a transition house with severe disabilities, “will probably never get better.”
Sukhwinder was not in court Friday, though more than a dozen supporters from various women’s organizations were present. The hearing will continue Monday with defence submissions.
Wilson played an 11-minute video victim impact statement in which Sukhwinder in a barely audible voice wept and tried to explain how the trauma has changed her life forever.
She said she can’t sleep and is constantly fearful. She can’t work because one arm is paralyzed from the beating. She can’t eat solid food because it gets stuck in her throat. She is heavily medicated and can’t walk without assistance.
Some in the court gasped when she showed huge scars on her neck where it was slashed and other scars on her head and arm from Singh’s repeated blows.
But she said the worst thing is that she can’t stop thinking about her precious sons, who she had hoped would marry some day and “expand the family.”
“Instead of the family growing, I am reduced to a lone person,” she said.
“They were my entire life. ... My whole reason for living has been snatched away. I can’t live without my children.”
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