The third and final man to be sentenced for the 2017 killing in Abbotsford of Alex Blanarou of Surrey has received a 10-year jail term.
Islam Nagem, 28, was sentenced Wednesday (Feb. 22) in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver after previously pleading guilty to manslaughter with a firearm.
He was given 32 days’ credit for time served after his arrest, leaving him with nine years and 11 months in prison.
Justice Michael Brundrett agreed with the joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers Wednesday morning that recommended the 10-year sentence.
“I’m appalled at your offending in this case … There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behaviour. You have caused catastrophic consequences to others and now to yourself,” he said in sentencing Nagem.
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.
Crown lawyer Catherine Fedder laid out the circumstances of Nagem’s involvement.
She said that, on the day of the killing, one of the other men who was sentenced, Edrick Raju, arranged with Blanarou to meet later in the day under the pretext of buying drugs.
At Raju’s sentencing hearing earlier this month, the court was told that Raju conspired with others to execute Blanarou that day because they believed he had played a part in the killing of Nagem’s brother, Mohamed, who was shot to death while in a vehicle in Whitehorse in September 2017.
The group met in the garage of Nagem’s townhouse, where Nagem produced two guns, one of which he gave to Raju.
Also on hand was Michael Schweiger, the other man sentenced in the case, as was an individual referred to as Witness A.
Fedder said the group split up into three cars and drove off together. Raju and Witness A stopped to pick up Blanarou at a gas station along the way.
Witness A was driving, Raju was in the passenger seat, and Blanarou was in the backseat as they drove along Bates Road in the lead vehicle. Raju turned around and shot Blanarou twice in the stomach.
Blanarou managed to escape from the vehicle and ran down Bates Road, but Nagem chased him into a nearby berry field and shot him, Fedder said.
The group drove off, leaving Blanarou for dead.
Justice Brundrett said the aggravating circumstances in the case include that the shooting involved a degree of planning, Nagem provided the guns, he chased and shot Blanarou, and he was part of a “brutal and unprovoked attack” on an unarmed victim.
He said the mitigating circumstances include that Nagem has no prior criminal record, has been on bail for two years and has complied with all his conditions, and has a strong support network as evidenced by the several letters of reference presented to the court and the number of friends and family who were in the courtroom.
Victim impact statements were read in court by Blanarou’s mom, Marina Sokolovskaia, and sister, Yara, who said they continue to live daily with their grief.
Brundrett said no sentence will make up for their “profound sense of loss.”
Defence lawyer Michael Shapray read a letter from Nagem, saying he takes “full responsibility for (his) mistakes” and is committed to taking steps towards his personal growth.
Justice Brundrett was critical of the letter, saying that it was “self-centred” and that Nagem failed to apologize for his actions or to even mention Blanarou in his statement.
But he said Nagem’s prospects for the future appear positive.
“Despite this appalling offence, Mr. Nagem appears to have some hope for rehabilitation to lead a lawful, productive life,” he said.
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.
Raju was sentenced Feb. 10 to a 14-year jail term on charges of manslaughter with a firearm and conspiracy to commit murder. After credit for time served, Raju’s remaining jail term is 11 years and two months.