Skip to content

'Cold-blooded' B.C. killer vomits repeatedly at sentencing

Three men have now been sentenced to prison terms in the December 2017 shooting of Alexander Blanarou.
Alexander Blanarou, 23, was shot multiple times and left for dead on the side of an Abbotsford road.

A B.C. man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail before parole for his part in a 2017 Abbotsford shooting that left one man dead — a hearing in which the man vomited repeatedly.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Brundrett sentenced Islam Nagem Feb. 22 after he pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter with a firearm. He had been charged with first-degree murder.

Alexander Blanarou, 23, was shot multiple times and left for dead on the side of an Abbotsford road.

The judge called the crime a “brutal and unprovoked attack on Mr. Blanarou who was unarmed.” He said it was an “appalling offence.”

Brundrett accepted a joint submission on the 10-year sentence from Crown prosecutor Catherine Fedder and defence lawyer Michael Shapray.

While Nagem wrote a letter to the court, Brundrett said it was full of platitudes and not much more than a plea for leniency.

“I know I cannot go back and undo what I have done,” Nagem said. “I will live with it for the rest of my life.”

The judge called the letter “self-centred as it makes no mention of the deceased.”

“It appears this offender still has some distance to go in terms of being rehabilitated,” Brundrett said, adding Nagem has a high degree of moral blameworthiness.

Ordering Nagem to stand, Brundrett said to him, “This kind of violence rips at the fabric of our families and the fabric of our community. You have cause catastrophic consequences to others and ultimately to yourself.”

Nagem, 28, is one of three men convicted in the killing of Blanarou.

In October, Erick Melvynn Raju pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm and conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 14 years.

Michael Schweiger, 33, was sentenced Jan. 24 after pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to manslaughter. He received four years.

The crime

On Dec. 28, 2017, Abbotsford Police Department officers responded to the area of Bates Road and Harris Road for a possible shooting.

Officers found Blanarou’s body in a blueberry field.

The department said early indications were that the shooting was targeted; the case subsequently moved to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Raju had arranged with Blanarou to meet with him on the day of the killing.

On that day, Nagem, Raju and Schweiger met. Nagem gave Raju one gun and kept one for himself, court heard. Then, they left their meeting place in three vehicles along with a witness.

Blanarou got in one vehicle at a gas station but soon jumped from the vehicle after being shot by Raju, Fedder said. The driver of another vehicle then tried unsuccessfully to hit Blanarou.

It was then that Nagem jumped from his vehicle, chased down Blanarou and shot him with a semi-automatic pistol.

“It is, in the Crown’s submission, a near-murder case,” Fedder told Brundrett. “He cold-bloodedly and ruthlessly chased and shot him.” 

As Fedder began to discuss the details of the sentence on Feb. 22, Nagem motioned to a sheriff, who gave him a garbage can. Leaning forward in the prisoner’s dock, Nagem repeatedly vomited into the bucket.

The court later heard he had missed food and medication that morning. 

Victim impact statements

Blanarou’s mother and sister spoke passionately and emotionally about their son and brother.

“My son was murdered,” Marina Sokolovskaia said. “I was sentenced to life.”

“My son was a smart, funny and caring guy who loved life,” she said. “He was surrounded by support and love.”

Now, she said, she wakes up numb.

“I live in a state of grief,” she told the court.

Sister Yana Sokolovskaia said the family’s lives change the day the police arrived to tell them of Blanarou’s death. A candle burns near a picture of him in the family home, she said.

Glancing briefly at Nagem, Sokolovskaia said, “You have caused so much pain that will never be repaired.”

[email protected]