A Richmond man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the manslaughter of his son and mother-in-law who died in an early Monday morning fire at a local fourplex on April 13, 2015.
Surjit Singh Dosanjh was 40 at the time he was convicted following a 43-day trial in July, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Voith found him not guilty of second degree murder, but guilty of two counts of manslaughter. Dosanjh pled not guilty to the charges and denied any involvement in the fire that claimed the life of his son and mother-in-law, who were living on bunk beds in the room they shared. They died of carbon monoxide poisoning following the fire in their home on Cornerbrook Crescent.
Dosanjh had been estranged from his family prior to the fire, and was not living there at the time.
In his sentencing decision, Justice Voith noted that Dosanjh and his common-law-wife had an angry and dysfunctional relationship for many years, they often argued, were loud, and swore at each other.
Dosanjh struggled with drug addiction and the couple argued about the religious upbringing of their youngest son, according to the court document.
Just a few weeks before the deadly fire, Dosanjh’s common-law wife told him she wished to leave the relationship.
“In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Dosanjh was both angry and distraught. He was angry that he was asked to leave the residence.”
Police had visited the home numerous times in the week prior to the blaze, and on the evening before the fire, Dosanjh’s common-law wife and youngest child sought shelter in a transition house out of concern with Dosanjh’s behaviour.
On the early morning of the fire, Dosanjh and his eldest child had entered the Cornerbrook home around 1:30 a.m. to retrieve some of his belongings. Dosanjh had earlier been told by police that he wasn’t welcome at the home. At one point, Dosanjh entered the home for a brief time, during which Justice Voith “found as a fact that he went back upstairs and lit a fire on or near the bed in the master bedroom.”
The master bedroom was close to where Dosanjh’s mother-in-law slept, along with Dosanjh’s son, who Dosanjh had expected not to be home as he was to have spent the night at his grandfather’s house.
Dosanjh was sentenced Oct. 22 but a transcript of the reasons was released Dec. 24.