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Sentencing underway for Abbotsford man who killed wife with hatchet

Inderjit Sandhu previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of Kamaljit Sandhu
Kamaljit Sandhu of Abbotsford was killed on July 28, 2022. Her husband, Inderjit Sandhu, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. His sentencing hearing takes place June 20 and 21.

A sentencing hearing began Thursday (June 20) in Abbotsford for a man who killed his estranged wife in 2022 by bludgeoning her with a hatchet. 

Inderjit Sandhu, now 50, previously pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Kamaljit Sandhu, 45, on July 28, 2022 outside his residence on Eastview Street. 

His sentencing hearing takes place Thursday and Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford. 

Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, but the hearing will determine how long Inderjit must wait before he can apply for parole, which can range from 10 to 25 years. 

The hearing began with Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan detailing the agreed statement of facts in the case. 

He said Inderjit and Kamaljit were married April 9, 1999 and had two children together a son born in 2001 and a daughter in 2006. 

Macgowan said Inderjit was twice arrested for domestic violence. In March 2006, police were called when a neighbour heard yelling and screaming coming from their home. 

Officers who arrived found damage to the residence and injuries to Kamaljit’s face. Inderjit was arrested, but Kamaljit claimed she had hit her head on the wall and/or a TV, and no charges were laid, Macgowan said.

RELATED: Woman killed in assault in Abbotsford; IHIT investigating

A year later, police were called again when a neighbour heard a man and a woman shouting and a child screaming. 

Macgowan said officers who arrived found Kamaljit with bruising and a cut on her face. She said she had fallen down the stairs, but the couple’s son, who was five years old at the time, told police that he saw his dad hit his mom. 

Inderjit was charged with assault, and he was later ordered to refrain from alcohol and take counselling related to substance abuse and domestic violence. 

Macgowan said Kamaljit, who had been a client adviser for 15 years at the Royal Bank, told her manager in March 2022 she was planning to separate from her husband. 

While Inderjit was in India to attend a family wedding, she began divorce proceedings, seeking spousal support, an order for exclusive occupancy in the family home and an order related to the children. 

“In an affidavit filed Kamaljit proposed the marriage was grossly unhealthy as she was subjected to verbal, physical and emotional abuse by the accused. The accused had consistently abused her since 2001,” Macgowan said. 

“The accused had been arrested twice for domestic violence and physical assaults on her taking place in the presence of the children. The accused exhibited controlling behaviour over her.” 

Macgowan said Kamaljit feared that once Inderjit became aware of the family court proceedings, her safety would be in danger. A protection order was granted on April 12, 2022 that prohibited Inderjit from communicating with Kamaljit or their children or from appearing at their home or her workplace. 

When Inderjit returned from India, he moved into the basement suite of a home with his parents. A work acquaintance and the man’s brother lived upstairs with their wives. 

Kamaljit was at work on July 28, 2022, when she went on her break after 4 p.m. Macgowan said cellphone analysis later showed that Kamaljit and Inderjit had a couple of brief phone calls during the day.

Macgowan said at 3:50 p.m. that day, Inderjit purchased a hatchet from a building supply store. 

The investigation revealed that Kamaljit left work and drove to Inderjit’s residence. When she arrived, he asked his parents to go outside so the two could talk alone. After a few minutes, Kamaljit told Inderjit that she had to return to work. 

“As Kamaljit left the basement suite, the accused retrieved the hatchet from where he had placed it in the bathroom. The accused approached Kamaljit from behind as she walked through the side yard and truck her multiple times with the hatchet,” Macgowan said. 

Inderjit’s parents were waiting outside and witnessed the attack, while the upstairs residents heard screams, called police and ran outside. 

They were able to get the hatchet away from Inderjit, after which he began trying to strangle Kamaljit. One of the residents hit him on the back several times, while another hit him with Kamaljit’s purse until he let go. 

Police arrived and Inderjit was arrested, while first responders performed life-saving measures on Kamaljit. She was pronounced dead on scene. 

Macgowan said an autopsy later showed that she had five hatchet wounds to her neck, upper back and right shoulder, resulting in massive blood loss that led to her death. 

Inderjit was initially charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty in April of this year to the lesser sentence of second-degree murder. 

RELATED: Husband pleads guilty in homicide of Abbotsford’s Kamaljit Sandhu

Six victim-impact statements were read at the sentencing hearing in which Kamaljit whose friends and family called her “Kam” or “Kamal” was described as “a very intelligent, caring and compassionate woman” whose kids were her priority. 

“She always had a smile on her face, despite the adversity she faced at home,” wrote her cousin. 

He said Kamaljit did not spend a lot of time with her family because Inderjit “did not allow this” and “her life was very controlled.” 

Three co-workers described how much Kamaljit’s death has impacted their lives. They said she was “always smiling.” 

“Kam was the sweetest, most loving and kind person. She never got upset if there was a problem and always saw the good,” one woman said. 

Statements from both of Kamaljit’s children were also read in court. 

“My mother was the one person who mattered most to me in my life and now she is gone I know she is always with me and my sister guiding us in each step of our life,” her son wrote. 

Her daughter, who graduates from high school this month, said her life has been “profoundly affected” by the loss of her mom. 

“My mom and I often talked about plans for my future after high school graduation and the memories we would make together. Experiencing these things without her is a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” she stated. 

Macgowan said the Crown is recommending parole eligibility be set at the higher end 15 to 17 years due to the aggravating factors in the case. 

He said the murder of a spouse is an “extreme breach of trust,” and the killing can be described as “particularly brutal.” 

Macgowan said although the crime “fell short of proof” for first-degree murder, there were elements of planning and deliberation in the killing. 

The defence position will be presented at the sentencing hearing either later Thursday or on Friday. 

The judge’s decision will likely be reserved for a later date. 

RELATED: IHIT identifies victim of Abbotsford homicide as mom of two, Kamaljit Sandhu

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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