It began with a sucker punch, struck in drunken anger. It ended with tears and a plea for forgiveness.
On Monday, SJE, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the beating death of 37-year-old Ranji Bhar. The stocky, dark-haired Calgary man broke down several times, sobbing as he asked Bhar’s family for forgiveness.
“If I had a chance to move back in time, I would,” SJE said, his voice a mumble as tears streamed down his cheeks. “But nothing can change the fact he’s gone from all your lives.
“Sometimes it takes a life to give a life, to save a life. I myself have . . . become a new person. I please ask you to forgive me for my mistake.”
As SJE talked, Bhar’s family and friends wept, or buried their heads in their hands. It was just one of several emotional speeches made during Elliot’s sentencing hearing at Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.
Crown prosecutor Les Grieve and defence counsel Pat Fagan issued a joint recommendation that SJE serve 31/2 years in prison.
Judge Arthur Lutz will pronounce his sentence this morning.
On Aug. 5, 2000, SJE and his friends went to the Back Alley Night Club on Macleod Trail. Drunk and high on cocaine, he and the others picked a fight with a bystander as club-goers left the bar at closing time.
Bhar and a friend, Robert McRobbie, saw SJE beating the man in the parking lot and tried to stop him.
One of SJE’s pals retrieved a baseball bat from his truck and threatened McRobbie. SJE sneaked behind Bhar and punched him in the jaw.
According to SJE’s statement to the police, “He didn’t see me and I blindsided him. His eyes rolled back and he hit like a tree in the forest.”
Bhar’s head hit the pavement with a loud “crack sound.” He died three days later in hospital.
Bhar’s 16-year-old daughter, Nicole, wept as her victim impact statement was read in court by her aunt.
“I will not have my daddy to walk me down the aisle. My future grandchildren will not know their grandfather,” she said. “My life has forever changed.”
Ranji Bhar’s girlfriend of 10 years, Jacinthe Bosse, said in her victim impact statement she will never recover from the loss of her soulmate.
“Every morning I wake up wishing Ranji’s death is a dream, but . . . it’s a waking nightmare,” she said.
Grieve said SJE has spent 14 months at the Calgary Remand Centre, but should be credited with 28 months because of the centre’s stark conditions.