West Kelowna  

Life in prison, no chance of parole for 12 years, for 2018 hotel room murder

No parole for 12 years

UPDATE: 5:30 p.m.

Justice Alison Beames says her ruling of 12 years parole ineligibility was based on factors such as previous violence in the relationship, Danjou's demonstration of remorse, his age and mental state. 

"By all accounts, Rama Guaravarapu was a much loved, respected mother, family member, friend and colleague. She was a productive member of her community and society. Her death results in a great loss for many people. 

"Were it not for Mr Danjou's age, admission that he killed Ms Guaravarapu and his apparent remorse, I would have considered it fit to set a period of parole ineligibility at the higher end of the range."

Danjou is also required to undergo a forensic DNA test, is prohibited from possession of certain weapons in the 10 years following his prison release, and prohibited from contact with the victim’s daughter, the victim’s friend, and the hotel worker who walked in on the offence following a noise complaint. 

The 71-year-old appeared at his sentencing Monday via video conference from the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver, and gave his own statement prior to sentencing.

"I’m very sorry for what’s happened," Danjou told the court.

"It’s ironic I had to come to jail to get peace. This incarceration of two years actually helped me immensely. I have mastered my mind - unbelievable ... I lead a life full of bliss in the jail and I am constantly in harmony with the present moment. The absolute present."

Earlier Monday, Crown lawyer Simone McCallum put forward a sentencing submission requesting a parole ineligibility period of 13 to 14 years.

Key issues in the Crown’s submission included previous violence in the deteriorating relationship between Danjou and Gauravarapu, the prolonged nature of the violent attack and Danjou’s apparent habitual alcohol use. 

“It’s no stretch to call it a brutal attack ... for a significant portion of the attack on her, Miss Gauravarapu was unable to defend herself," says McCallum. 

Defence counsel Donna Turko also presented her sentencing submissions, asking Justice Beames for a 10 year parole ineligibility period.

Turko told the court parole “is not easily granted to lifers” even after they’ve served their ineligibility period, and said given his age, Danjou would likely be institutionalized for the rest of his life. 

According to Turko, Danjou has spent the past two years seeking inner peace through Buddhism and meditation, and has had a positive impact at the OCC, where he has been known as the ‘podfather.’

“He has been a model prisoner ... he has been a calm, gentle influence because of his new philosophy on life.”

She argued a steady work history, no prior criminal record, and delusional state at the time of offence were mitigating factors for the lesser period of 10 years parole ineligibility. 

Monday's sentencing also included victim impact statements, and a character reference letter from one of Danjou's three adult daughters. 

Danjou will be transferred to Kent Institution, a maximum security facility in Agassiz, for the next two years of his sentence.

ORIGINAL: 4:30 p.m.

A Lower Mainland man has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years for the murder of his partner while the pair were vacationing in West Kelowna.

Justice Alison Beames handed the sentence to Tejwant Danjou, 71, after a day-long hearing on Monday. He was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Rama Guaravarapu after a trial last month.

Danjou never denied killing Guaravarapu, going so far as to plead guilty on the first day of trial. The very next day, Danjou took back his guilty plea, after refusing to admit he had intended to kill her.

By definition, murder is homicide where the accused has the intent to kill, or knew the injuries inflicted are likely to cause death. Homicide without intent to kill is manslaughter, which the defence argued Danjou should have been convicted of. 

On the evening of July 22, 2018, Danjou repeatedly struck Rama Guaravarapu with a wine bottle inside the couple’s hotel room at the West Kelowna Best Western.

Guaravarapu, who had travelled from her home in Surrey to the Okanagan with Danjou for a weekend of wine tasting, died on the floor of the room, in a pool of blood and red wine.

The defence had argued Danjou had been suffering from a delusional disorder of the jealous type for many months leading up to the killing, convinced Guaravarapu had been cheating on him.

Court heard Danjou had previously been physically violent towards Guaravarapu. She had told her friends that Danjou had threatened to kill her in the past and Guaravarapu had expressed interest in leaving him at least six times prior to her death.

Danjou will be 83 years old when he becomes eligible for parole.

More to come...

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