British Columbia

Maple Batalia's killer, Gurjinder Dhaliwal, sentenced to life in prison

The jealous ex-boyfriend of Maple Batalia has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 21 years for the 2011 second-degree murder of the teen.

Gurjinder Dhaliwal admitted to shooting the 19-year-old SFU student and slashing her with a knife

Maple Batalia was killed four and a half years ago in Surrey. Ex-boyfriend Gurjinder 'Gary' Dhaliwal has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

After four and a half years, Maple Batalia's family still has questions for their daughter's killer — but today they learned his fate.

Gurjinder "Gary" Dhaliwal was sentenced to life in prison, not eligible for parole for 21 years, by Justice Terence Schultes.

Just before the sentence came down, several members of Batalia's family gave emotional victim impact statements, in a scene even the judge said was unusual in the Canadian justice system.

Batalia's weeping mother faced Dhaliwal and addressed him directly in the New Westminster courtroom.

"Why did you kill my daughter?" Sarbjit Batalia shouted at Dhaliwal.

Outside court, Maple Batalia's sister Roseleen Batalia spoke to reporters after her killer was sentenced: 'It's been a long time, but Maple can finally rest in peace knowing." (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

'My life feels useless'

The anguished plea came at the end of an hour full of impact statements from friends and family of the 19-year-old, whom Dhaliwal admitted last week to shooting and then stabbing to death in September 2011.

During the statements Dhaliwal sat in the prisoner's box, back straight against the glass wall which separates the court from the gallery.

To his left, more than a dozen victims watched from the jury box, as one after another, they remembered a young woman whose death has left a giant hole in the lives of all who knew her.

Maple Batalia's father was the first to address the court.

"My life feels useless and without purpose," said Harkirat Batalia.

"I'm left with a question of why this happened?"

It was a question echoed many more times in the statements to come. Batalia's father said his family has been torn apart and he feels guilt at not having been able to protect his daughter from a man whose jealousy led to her death.

"Your actions, Gary, have denied us of a happy life," he said. "My little girl will never come back, no matter what the outcome today."

Gursimar Bedi, on the left, and Gurjinder 'Gary' Dhaliwal, on the right, appeared in court together on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (Felicity Don/CBC)

Obsessive, controlling behaviour

Friends spoke of Maple Batalia's intelligence, warmth and kindness. One said they shared the same birthday: March 4. But she said each year just brings another reminder of how much she has lost.

Three of Batalia's closest friends walked up to the witness box together and read a joint statement, taking turns between tears.

"You said you loved her," one of them said, addressing Dhaliwal directly. "How can you breathe, knowing you took her breath?"

According to Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephens, Dhaliwal killed Batalia because she wanted to break up with him because of repeated infidelity. Stephens said the fact the murder occurred in the context of a break-up should be considered an aggravating factor.

Stephens said Dhaliwal engaged in "obsessive, controlling behaviour" in the weeks before the killing. He sent her thousands of messages, threatened male friends and ultimately lay in wait to confront and kill her.

She said those factors should be considered aggravating.

"In this country, of course, men do not get to impose themselves on women."

Co-accused Gursimar Bedi is facing charges of accessory after the fact and manslaughter. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

With files from Jason Proctor and Jesse Johnston