A father was sentenced to five years in prison after he ran over his daughter and her boyfriend, who he disapproved of because the boy was from a lower Sri Lankan caste.
The father, Selvanayagam Selladurai, 47, also hit and injured his son-in-law, Lenin Sandrasingam (19) with his minivan. The incident took place across from Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute in Scarborough on June 1, 2007.
His daughter Anitha, 16, and Sandrasingam fell under the car and were dragged for five metres until the car crashed into a fence. Anitha’s boyfriend Prashanna Anadarajah, 17, managed to get out of the minivan’s way, but sprained his ankle.
“The accused is exceptionally lucky that no one was killed,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon Tuesday.
“Using a motor vehicle to run over your own daughter and son-in-law and a 17-year-old boy because you don’t approve of the relationship and how it will reflect on your family is extremely reprehensible.”
The father, “acting bizarrely and smiling inappropriately,” chased the injured boyfriend, threatening, “I will kill you.”
Anadarajah managed to run into the high school where several people kept the father away who was still eager to reach him.
“Selladurai showed zero concern for the people he had hit,” said McMahon.
All three victims were taken to hospital. Sandrasingam suffered a broken pelvic bone and required immediate surgery. He still walks with a cane three years after the incident.
Anitha was hospitalized for three weeks for head trauma, as well as injuries to her collarbone, back and liver. She also received therapy for memory challenges.
Last month, Selladurai pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault. He was originally charged with three counts of attempted murder and several other offences.
In an agreed statement of facts, he admitted to committing the crime because the boy was from a lower caste. Selladurai later told the court his motivation for the crime was actually his belief that the boy was a gang leader.
McMahon rejected this claim, saying it was inconsistent with what he told his psychiatrist, Dr. Julian Gojer.
Gojer was told that Selladurai feared no one in the Sri Lankan community would want to marry his daughter after dating Anadarajah. He said that the boy had ties to terrorists and feared for his daughter’s safety.
“Cultural differences cannot be used as an excuse to commit criminal acts in Canada,” said McMahon. “The honour of family does not justify criminal activity.”
Selladurai had been suffering from depression for a year prior to the incident. He tried to commit suicide once, under the influence of alcohol. Selladurai had been upset with his daughters because they weren’t behaving according to their Sri Lankan traditions.
McMahon stated that Selladurai has had support from the entire family who tried to get the charges withdrawn.
“While on bail, the accused hasn’t had any difficulties with the family,” McMahon said.
All three victims initially refused to submit their victim impact statements, and stated that they weren’t concerned with their safety and want to maintain contact with Selladurai. Sandrasingam said that he’s on the path to good recovery.
After his pre-trial custody, Selladurai will serve for four years and one month.
“Judge McMahon did a really good job at laying out the facts and reasons,” commented Crown prosecutor Eadit Rokach outside of the court after the ruling. “His decision was appropriate in light of the facts.”