Sentence fails to ease friend’s pain

Robert McRobbie wishes he and friend Ranji Bhar had never come to the aid of a man being beaten in a parking lot outside a Macleod Trail bar last year.

If they had just walked away, Bhar might still be alive, McRobbie said outside Court of Queen’s Bench on Tuesday after his friend’s killer was sent to jail for 15 months for manslaughter.

“If I knew then what I know now, I should never have jumped to that man’s aid,” an emotional McRobbie said, referring to the fatal Aug. 5, 2000, incident outside the Back Alley nightclub. “If we had never gone there, this would never have happened.

“I should have just gone about my business, then Ranji would never have got hurt. We hardly ever frequented bars and only went there that night to play pool.”

The killer, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Monday before the start of what was to be a five-day trial, then wept as he pleaded for forgiveness from Bhar’s family.

Justice Arthur Lutz accepted a joint submission by defence lawyer Pat Fagan and Crown prosecutor Les Grieve to sentence the killer to 31/2 years, less credit for time served.

Court heard earlier the killer and his friends were drunk on beer and high on cocaine when they went to the Back Alley in the 4600 block of Macleod Trail that night, then picked a fight with a bystander at closing time.

When Bhar, 37, and McRobbie stepped in to assist the man, one of the killer’s buddies grabbed a baseball bat from his truck and threatened McRobbie. The killer then snuck up behind Bhar and sucker-punched him in the jaw.

Bhar’s head struck the pavement heavily and he died from his injuries three days later.

Lutz called it a case of vigilante justice by a career criminal who was out of control from self-induced intoxication and drug ingestion.

“You were never man enough to give Bhar a chance to see your arrival and give him a chance,” Lutz told the killer before sentencing him. “Bhar had just helped a person in danger.”

Bhar’s daughter Nicole, 16, said the decision gave her some closure, but added the sentence was “not fair.”

“For my dad’s life, 15 months is nothing,” she said, tearfully. “If he’s truthful about what he said, that’s good. But it seems like he was more sorry for himself.

“He’s had so many chances and keeps breaking them.

. . . I have no choice but to go on, without my dad. It’ll always be hard.”

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