Man who killed an elderly woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter

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Man who killed an elderly woman was originally charged with second degree murder, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in what appeared to be an unprovoked fatal attack on an elderly New Westminster woman in June 2015.

24-year-old man pleaded guilty in September to the lesser charge in New Westminster Provincial Court.

On June 3, 2015 shortly after 6pm.  A 79-year-old woman Charan Dhandwar was walking west along the southside of the 1500 block Eighth Avenue, only minutes from the home where she lived with her husband, their son and his family.

Charan Dhandwar

Charan Dhandwar was fatally attacked in broad daylight during her daily walk in New Westminster’s west end neighbourhood.

Police were called to reports of a man and an elderly woman fighting.

When officers arrived, the woman was dead — her body lying on a sidewalk hidden by a thick, towering hedge outside of a tiny house.

Dhandwar was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Daily walker

People who live near the crime scene said they were familiar with Dhandwar and three other older women who walked daily — sometimes twice a day — in the area.

“Once in a while, I would greet them if they were on this side of the street — like hello, how are you,” said Anju Parmar whose house is a couple of doors from where the attack happened.

That sunny afternoon, Dhandwar had been out to pay respects at a friend’s home, where there had been a death in the family and Parmar was gardening in her front yard.

Odd stranger

Parmar was alerted something was wrong when she noticed a young man behaving oddly near her home.

1544 eighth ave

Within days of the attack on Dhandwar, the tall, dense hedge that hid the incident from passers-by was removed and replaced with a fence. (Belle Puri/CBC )

“He was running back and forth on the sidewalk,” said Parmar.

“Suddenly, he ran into traffic. He was hit by a car, got up and kept running.”

Shortly afterwards, police arrested Levasseur in a dramatic takedown in a residential area about three blocks away.

The next day, lawyer Joe Saulnier told a provincial court judge Levasseur was a New Westminster resident with a job and a post-secondary school education.

Plea

On September 6, 2016, Levasseur made another brief court appearance and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

“There were no circumstances presented in court. He simply pleaded guilty and was remanded,” said Vancouver lawyer Eric Purtzki who is representing Levasseur.

“There will be much more information disclosed at the sentencing hearing. I’m not at liberty to talk about the circumstances until we get before the court.”

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Sentencing

Manslaughter carries no minimum sentence unless it’s committed with the use of a firearm.  Other manslaughter sentences vary from probation to life in prison.

Levasseur is scheduled for a full sentencing hearing early in the new year in the same New Westminster courthouse where Dhandwar’s son is a sheriff.

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