Pickering man who killed pregnant wife handed life sentence, to serve at least 17 years

A Pickering man convicted in the 2017 killing of his pregnant wife has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details of domestic violence

Arianna Goberdhan and Nicholas Baig in a wedding photo in November 2016 — six months before she was was killed. (Facebook)

A Pickering man convicted in the 2017 killing of his pregnant wife was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years on Thursday. 

Nicholas Baig, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of Arianna Goberdhan earlier this year. The charge carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years under the Criminal Code. 

During a sentencing hearing in a packed Oshawa courtroom this morning, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jocelyn Speyer ordered that Baig serve at least 17 years in prison. She cited Baig's guilty plea and the "senseless act of cruelty" as reasons for her decision.

Speyer went on to describe the "profound and crushing" impact Baig's crime has had on Goberdhan's family and friends, noting the wider community has been affected, too.

"Mr. Baig's moral blameworthiness is exceedingly high. The gravity of Mr. Baig's crime is impossible to overstate," she said.

Goberdhan, 27, was nine-months pregnant with what would have been her first child when she was found dead at Baig's Pickering home in April 2017, court heard.

Her unborn baby, who Goberdhan planned to name Asaara, did not survive.

Victim called 911 moments before being killed

The couple was married for six months before Baig was charged with Goberdhan's slaying. He quickly became a suspect in the case after police said they received a 911 call about a domestic disturbance at his house.

Goberdhan phoned police surreptitiously, but did not speak. Court documents state the operator heard her plead with Baig, saying: "You have to let me go. You have to let me go home ... you can't keep me here like this in the state that you are in Nick."

Baig stabbed her to death after the call ended, Justice Speyer said.

The home's security camera caught Baig leaving the property in Goberdhan's father's car two minutes later, the court heard.

Officers entered the home with Baig's brother. He found her body and a large kitchen knife lying in Baig's bedroom, court documents stated. She had been stabbed 17 times. 

Baig was arrested 24 hours later in Markham following a day-long search and charged with second-degree murder. Days later investigators upgraded the charge to first-degree murder after meeting with Crown attorneys, however in January he would plead guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

History of violence

Days after the discovery of Goberdhan's body, those that knew the couple as happy newlyweds said they were baffled. Family members told CBC Toronto the pair were excitedly awaiting the baby's arrival. 

But it later emerged the couple had a troubled relationship, one Speyer said was "marred by [his] abusive and controlling behaviour toward her."

Court documents show the family had separated four months before Goberdhan was killed. She had moved into her parents' house in Ajax because she and Baig "were not getting along." Despite that, she would periodically visit Baig, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court.

Their relationship continued to deteriorate, the court heard, the extent of which was captured in a series of "vile" text messages Baig sent to his estranged wife. 

One text submitted as evidence in the case read: "I've never wished death on anyone before I hope to God you stop breathing while you drive. I really don't want to be married to you." 

Friends and family remembered Goberdhan in their victim impact statements as a vibrant and compassionate person who would light up any room she walked in to. 

With files from CBC's Jasmin Seputis